Why stop having fun?: Drinking and smoking as ways of 'doing' girl

Cullen, Fiona. 2007. Why stop having fun?: Drinking and smoking as ways of 'doing' girl. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

In recent years a great deal has been written by journalists, policy makers and academics, about young women's leisure time pursuits. Much of this interest has focused around a concern that young women in the UK are smoking more regularly and in greater quantities than ever before. This thesis responds to these concerns. My key argument is that the young women in the field settings used alcohol and tobacco to partly negotiate entry into imagined 'adult' drinking and smoking femininities, and by doing so, girls also explored and practiced ideas of bodily control and social conformity. The theoretical framework for this thesis is influenced by recent feminist poststructuralist work exploring multiple femininities. My aim is to contribute to the theoretical debates around the nature and purpose of drugs education within schools and other youth settings. The research asks: in what ways is young women's tobacco and alcohol use gendered?

This small scale, multi method, qualitative research with 13 - 19 year old young women examines a range of aspects of girls drinking and smoking experiences. These include: young women's social geographies, the use of party photography, teenage drinking stories and the young women's use of cigarettes as an informal social currency. My argument is that understanding a whole range of young women's social experiences within friendship groups, provides valuable insights into the complexities of the young women's social worlds. The main findings suggest cigarettes and alcohol use by the girls in the field settings was part of a complex performance and production of contextual age-specific femininities, and the negotiation of gendered and friendship hierarchies. I argue that such an analysis is an important element of theorising and creating more meaningful drugs education for young women.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



gender; bodily control; social conformity; feminist poststructuralist; multiple femininities; drinking; smoking

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

23 Jun 2020 15:52

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 12:43



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