Author(s): Richard OD, Jonathan AS
Concern about excessive alcohol consumption among young men demands an understanding of why some young men drink excessively while others do not. The aim of this study was to identify how young men's patterns of alcohol consumption are related to their beliefs about masculinity, and the importance of drinking to their masculine identities. Thirty-one individual interviews and five group discussions were conducted with an ethnically- and socioeconomically-diverse sample of men aged 18–21 living in London, England. Analysis revealed a variety of associations between masculinity and alcohol consumption. Some men believed that alcohol consumption is a marker of masculinity and behaved accordingly. Other men emphasised the importance of other behaviours to masculine identity. There was also evidence that men traded drinking competence with competence in other behavioural domains. The links between masculinity and health-related social behaviours such as drinking are not simple. Implications for health education and health promotion are discussed.