Noticed and then forgotten: gender in alcohol policy stakeholder responses to alcohol and violence
Background: Research on assault and injury related to alcohol consumption in night-time entertainment and drinking environments routinely identifies men as key perpetrators and victims. Although such a clear gender dynamic would suggest the need for a policy focus on men and violence, a consideration of men and masculinities is rare in alcohol policy. This presentation analyses how alcohol policy stakeholders in Australia, Canada and Sweden articulate the relationship between men, masculinities, alcohol and public violence, and how these understandings inform perceptions of viable responses.
Methods: The analysis is based on research conducted for a project on the comparative treatment of gender in research and policy on alcohol and violence in Australia, Canada and Sweden. Thirty-five in-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 42 alcohol policy stakeholders across the three countries.
Results: Although the interviewed stakeholders view men’s violence as a key issue for intervention, masculinities are backgrounded in proposed responses and men are positioned as unamenable to intervention. Instead, policy stakeholders prioritise generic interventions understood to protect all from the harms of men’s drinking and violence without marking men for special attention. These interventions focus on curbing the harms of men’s drinking but apply equally to all people and, as such, avoid naming men and masculinities as central to alcohol-related violence.
Conclusion: The analysis suggests that alcohol policy stakeholders in Australia, Canada and Sweden readily ‘notice’ men’s role in violence and, to some extent, masculinities as central problems for alcohol interventions. However, beyond the use of social marketing campaigns, they struggle to apply such knowledge to alcohol policy addressing violence. The research highlights a critical need for the development and evaluation of feasible interventions that directly address the contribution of masculinities to violence in drinking settings.
Disclosure of interest statement: This work was supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project (DP180100365).