‘Maturing out’ as normative standard: qualitative interviews with young adult drinkers – University of Copenhagen

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31 October 2018

‘Maturing out’ as normative standard: qualitative interviews with young adult drinkers

Margaretha Järvinen, professor at the Department of Sociology, has co-authored the recently published article '‘Maturing out’ as normative standard: qualitative interviews with young adult drinkers.'

Framed within a life-course perspective, the article analyzes the contents of the phenomenon ‘maturing out’ of adolescent drinking. The two authors identify five dimensions of change that young adults’ drinking habits are expected to undergo when they reach their mid-twenties: using alcohol to maintain and develop existing relationships instead of building new relationships; drinking in differentiated ways instead of always to get drunk; controlling one’s intoxication instead of transgressing limits; considering the day after drinking instead of ‘living for the night’; and drinking to ‘chill’ and not to ‘cope’. Maturing out, as described by their interviewees, is only loosely connected with the taking on of adult roles and responsibilities (related to e.g. work and family). Rather, maturing out is a powerful social norm urging young adults to change their drinking habits, regardless of their individual life situation – a status-forcing mechanism casting those who do not adapt as deviants. The analysis centers on 24 qualitative interviews with Danish 25–27-year-olds identified as ‘heavy drinkers’ in a preceding population survey.

Louise Høyer Bom & Margaretha Järvinen, ‘Maturing out’ as normative standard: qualitative interviews with young adult drinkers, Journal of Youth Studies, October 2018.