“Sometimes You’ve Just Got to Have fun, Haven’t You?”: The Discursive Construction of Social Drinking Practices in Young Adults’ Accounts of Chronic Illness

Authors

  • Benjamin Mark Saunders Cardiff University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/cam.v8i1.77

Keywords:

Young adults, Type 1 diabetes (T1DM), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Social Drinking Practices, Accounts, Discourse analysis

Abstract

Participation in social drinking practices has been found to be a salient issue for young adults suffering from type 1 diabetes (T1DM), and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), with many reporting participating in such practices in spite of the potential additional health-risks (Eaton, Williams and Bodansky 2001; Balfe 2007, 2009). Drawing on interviews with sufferers aged 18-29 (n = 30), this paper aims to investigate how sufferers’ reasoning behind this behaviour is discursively constructed. Through using an ‘Accounts’ (Scott and Lyman 1968) framework, sufferers of both conditions were shown to attempt to construct an identity of ‘good’ diabetic, or IBD sufferer. A key difference found across the two conditions was that T1DM sufferers more regularly constructed ‘excuses’ for engaging in potentially ‘risky’ behaviour, whereas IBD sufferers predominantly produced ‘justifications’, which framed their behaviour as not necessarily being irresponsible. It is argued that this finding reflects the degree of risk at which sufferers of the respective conditions view their social drinking behaviour as placing them, with stronger biomedical evidence regarding the negative effects of alcohol on T1DM leading sufferers to view their ‘healthy body’ (Balfe 2009) in terms of more serious health implications, whereas IBD sufferers view their ‘healthy body’ in terms of short-term exacerbation of symptoms, which they do not see as significantly affecting their general IBD-health.

Author Biography

Benjamin Mark Saunders, Cardiff University

Benjamin Saunders is currently nearing completion of his Ph.D in Health Communication at Cardiff University. The title of his thesis is ‘Young Adults’ Experiences of Chronic Illness in Relation to Lifestyle Management Issues’. His research interests include experiences of illness, specifically chronic illness, and institutional interaction.

Published

2011-11-29

How to Cite

Saunders, B. M. (2011). “Sometimes You’ve Just Got to Have fun, Haven’t You?”: The Discursive Construction of Social Drinking Practices in Young Adults’ Accounts of Chronic Illness. Communication and Medicine, 8(1), 77–87. https://doi.org/10.1558/cam.v8i1.77

Issue

Section

Articles