16 month study, start date 1 September 2013

When a UK government proposes changes to alcohol policy, public debate often focuses on the likelihood of changes in the nations’ drinking culture.  However, what that culture is, which aspects of it require change and what an acceptable drinking culture would look like are typically poorly described.

This new study by SARG, funded by Alcohol Research UK, is using novel statistical data on the characteristics of British drinking occasion to develop a numerical description of the characteristics of the different types of drinking occasions which make up the nation’s drinking culture.  It will also explore how occasions vary between different social groups to establish whether multiple drinking cultures can be identified.  A review of literature and focus groups will inform this work.

the study’s results will provide policy makers with a framework for assessing which aspect of drinking cultures are problematic, which policies may impact upon these and what the drinking cultures they desire may look like.


Meier PS, Warde A, Holmes J (2017) ‘All drinking is not equal: how a social practice theory lens could enhance public health research on alcohol and other health behaviours‘, Addiction, DOI: 10.1111/add.13895

Ally A, Lovatt M, Meier PS, Brennan A, Holmes J. (2016) ‘Developing a social practice-based typology of British drinking culture in 2009-2011: Implications for alcohol policy analysis‘, Addiction, DOI: 10.1111/add.13397 (Open Access)

Holmes J, Lovatt M, Ally A, Brennan A, Meier P. (2016) ‘A new approach to measuring drinking cultures in Britain‘, London: Alcohol Research UK.

News articles and other media

April 2016, ‘British drinking culture mixes moderation and excess, our new study shows‘, Dr John Holmes writes for The Conversation.

March 2016, ‘Using social practice theory to measure British drinking culture‘, Dr John Holmes at Alcohol Research UK’s annual conference (VIDEO).

March 2014, ‘A new approach to measuring drinking cultures in Britain‘, Melanie Lovatt at Alcohol Research UK’s early career researcher conference (VIDEO).