Playing hard: Young men’s experiences of drinking in inner Melbourne
In recent years, the concept of ‘calculated hedonism’ has dominated sociological understandings of young people’s drinking practices. However, while contributing some important insights, this conceptualisation has not sufficiently considered the affective and embodied aspects of alcohol consumption. Our analysis explores the meanings and understandings of alcohol consumption among male participants in an 18-month study of young adults living in inner-city Melbourne. Data were collected via in-depth, semi-structured interviews and participant observation during drinking events. We draw on Roger Caillois’ notion of ‘play’ to analyse sessional drinking among these men. The four categories of play identified by Callois – competition, chance, simulation and vertigo – were all present in the accounts of these men’s drinking practices. This analysis offers a way of conceptualising men’s alcohol consumption in more nuanced ways that acknowledge the affective and embodied aspects of drinking as part of pleasure-seeking.