Sober rebels or good consumer-citizens? Anti-consumption and the ‘enterprising self’ in early sobriety

Emily Nicholls

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    Abstract

    Former drinkers in the UK are required to negotiate sobriety in a society that positions consumption (of alcohol but also more widely) as an important part of identity formation. A refusal to consume risks positioning the self outside of the established neoliberal order, particularly as traditional models of sobriety and ‘recovery’ position the non-drinker as diseased or flawed. As drinking rates decline across Western contexts and new movements celebrating sobriety as a positive ‘lifestyle choice’ proliferate, this paper will highlight ways in which sober women rework elements of traditional recovery models in order to construct an ‘enterprising self’ who remains a good consumer-citizen despite – or indeed because of – their refusal to drink. In doing so, this paper enhances our understandings of the ways in which neoliberal notions of a successful, enterprising self can be incorporated into (re)constructions of the self and identity by ‘anti-consumers’ more widely.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)768 –784
    Number of pages17
    JournalSociology
    Volume55
    Issue number4
    Early online date10 Feb 2021
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021

    Keywords

    • alcohol
    • anti-consumption
    • consumption
    • neo-liberalism
    • sobriety

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