Analysing gender in research and policy on alcohol-related violence among young people
Professor David Moore, National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University
Associate Professor Helen Keane, School of Sociology, Australian National University
Professor Kathryn Graham, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Canada
Associate Professor Mats Ekendahl, Department of Social Work, Stockholm University
NDRI’s Professor David Moore has been awarded an Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant of more than $530k to lead a novel study aimed at increasing the capacity of alcohol research and policy to address gender issues.
In recent years, the issue of ‘alcohol-fuelled violence’, particularly among young people, has generated intense policy debate in Australia. While this debate is certainly warranted – with alcohol use in Australia associated with losses of over $15 billion per year (including $4.5b in intangible losses such as violent deaths) – its contours and outcomes have been informed by a narrow range of research resources.
In particular, although Australian quantitative research shows a disproportionate involvement of young men in alcohol-related violence, and qualitative research highlights the complexities of gender and power and the contribution of masculinities to such violence, these issues receive scant attention in the research recommendations typically informing contemporary policy debate and its outcomes. These recommendations and outcomes tend to identify women as requiring special attention or foreground alcohol’s causal role in violence.
The study therefore addresses the urgent need for an analysis of gender in research and policy on alcohol and violence among young people. It builds on and extends research already conducted by the research team that identifies how unexamined concepts, such as gender, influence alcohol and other drug research and policy and the social sciences.
Using qualitative methods, the study will investigate and analyse the place of gender in alcohol research and policy. In doing so, it will produce typologies of gender concepts that will act as a practical resource for re-examining the assumptions shaping responses to alcohol-related violence. A key strength will be the comparative analysis of the gender concepts operating in research and policy on alcohol-related violence among young people in three different but related jurisdictions: Australia, Canada and Sweden. This analysis will significantly advance understandings of research and policy in all three countries, and inform the development of more effective, credible and equitable responses to alcohol-related violence among young people in Australia.
The research project aims to: (1) generate an integrated dataset on the range of gender concepts informing research and policy development on alcohol-related violence among young people in Australia, Canada and Sweden; (2) analyse these concepts in order to identify their assumptions and implications for alcohol research and policy; (3) develop typologies of these concepts, mapping their role in either supporting or limiting the development of alcohol research and policy in each site; (4) directly compare typologies by examining Australian, Canadian and Swedish typologies to ascertain points of similarity and difference, identify the most and least productive approaches, and consider the transferability of successful approaches and their outcomes. The project will be the first of its kind to be undertaken in Australia and internationally and will increase the capacity of Australian alcohol research and policy to address gender issues in effective and equitable ways.