Pub and Community: The Views of Birmingham Untreated Heavy Drinkers

Jim Orford, Alison Rolfe, Susan Dalton, C Painter, H Webb

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6 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reports the results of a qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews with 79 members of the Birmingham Untreated Heavy Drinkers Cohort. The cohort was recruited in 1997 when all participants were drinking 50 or more standard units of alcohol (men) or 35 or more units (women) most weeks. Present interviews were carried out as part of the fourth wave of interviews, held in 2003. The topic was the participants' places of drinking in the community and the functions those places served. The present analysis focused on the relationship between pubs and community. The strongest theme to emerge was that the pub provided for many participants a real sense of community in itself. It did so by enabling participants to meet with like-minded others, in a setting distinct from home or work, where conversing and confiding Could take place in a relaxed atmosphere, with a range of other activities and forms of social support available to many. At the same time, participants were discriminating about which pubs they used, and when, and with whom they chose to interact. There was less consensus about whether the pub served a wider function by contributing to a positive sense of community in the local neighbourhood. It is suggested that English pubs, at least in a large conurbation such as the West Midlands, are very varied, sometimes continuing to serve as 'the local' for a community, sometimes being part of a variety of drinking places which between them provide people with it diversity of social niches to meet their increasingly diverse choices and preferences, and sometimes reflecting and even contributing to local community disorganisation. Copyright (C) 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-82
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Community and Applied Social Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


  • pubs
  • sense of community
  • community
  • heavy drinkers


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