The practise and practice of Bourdieu: the application of social theory to youth alcohol research
Lunnay, Belinda Kate
Ward, Paul Russell
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This paper presents theoretically informed qualitative research that investigates why young Australian females (aged 14–17) drink and how social and cultural context form the basis, rather than the periphery, of their drinking experience. We demonstrate the utility of Pierre Bourdieu's sociological framework for delving beyond the dichotomy of young people's drinking decisions as either a determination of their cultural environment or the singular result of a rational individual's independent decision-making. The paper is presented in two parts. First, we provide the interpretation, or ‘practise’, of Bourdieu's concepts through an outline and application of his complex theoretical constructs. Specifically, the concept of symbolic capital (or social power) is applied. Second, our explication of Bourdieu's ‘practice’, or epistemological contributions, offers a methodologically grounded example to other researchers seeking to attain more complete understandings of the social processes underpinning youth alcohol consumption.