Reynolds, Justin (2019) Understanding attitudes relating to regional drinking practices: An analysis of post mining communities in Doncaster. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Drinking practices across Britain are not uniform and in each locality reflect the historical, socio-economic and cultural context unique to each specific part of the country. In South Yorkshire, the drinking cultures that exist in the area reflect the industrial heritage of the area, particularly the steel, rail and coal industries. The decline of traditional industries across Britain has had a significant impact on these drinking practices as Britain has transitioned from having an economy dominated by heavy industry to a post-industrial economy defined by Neoliberalism. The decline of the coal industry in Doncaster in particular has had a significant impact on the general everyday lives of people in communities that once had economies centred around the coal industry. This impact is reflected in the changes to drinking cultures.

This study focuses specifically on two post-mining communities in the Doncaster Borough (Rossington and Denaby Main and Mexborough), which have faced significant change in the socioeconomic landscape due to the decline and eventual loss of the mining industry. Post-mining communities have been subject to significant study and analysis from an economic regeneration aspect, but there was an identified gap in literature regarding research that specifically focuses on drinking practices in these areas.

From a symbolic interactionist perspective, the research utilised a constructivist grounded theory methodological approach, as gaining intimate familiarity with the research topic was of high importance, due to criticisms of past research having the preconceived notions or specific interests being imposed on them by the researcher. The grounded theory methodology was initially chosen due to the advantages it has when conducting research on under-researched topics such as attitudes to alcohol in post-mining communities. Twenty-four participants (five from Denaby Main and Mexborough and twenty-one from Rossington) were questioned about their attitudes to alcohol in semi-structured interviews in the case study areas.

This study made significant use of reflexivity as a methodological tool to put to the forefront the complexities of conducting qualitative research. This became particularly important in documenting the impact of the political context at the time and how this may have impacted on how the participants engaged with the researcher (the Brexit campaign, Brexit Referendum and the post-referendum period).

The research revealed that in both case study areas economic and cultural identities of the past have had a significant influence in shaping drinking practices. Drinking practices in the post-mining period have formed as a result to adapting to endogenous influences that have drastically changed the economy in the two areas. Whilst endogenous traditions such as maintaining closely-knit ties and respectability and sociability were emphasised by participants to have been maintained, the function of drinking associated with the mining industry (such as recovery) and institutions with links to the industry had declined. This decline in both the function of drinking and of institutions such as pubs and clubs had faced decline due to changing local socioeconomic context. Exogenous influences such as large supermarkets, an increasing presence in both areas from national off-licence franchises and increasing opportunities to engage in privatised leisure significantly influenced the strategies that participants used to adapt to post-industrial Doncaster.

The study contributes to knowledge in this area by contributing knowledge of localised drinking practices within a post-mining context in South Yorkshire although a gap may still remain for future research regarding research into drinking practices in post-mining communities. The research emphasises the need for researchers and policy makers that engage in future research in communities similar to the two case study areas to engage in reflexive practice, specifically in the current political context.

FINAL THESIS - Reynolds.pdf - Accepted Version
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