Drinking re‐considered: An analysis of problematization of alcohol consumption in contemporary Danish alcohol policy

Sabine Jepsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The objective of this Master’s Thesis is to explore if an analysis of the problematization of alcohol use in Danish contemporary alcohol policy delivers insights into the efficiency of the efforts in place tar-­‐ geting it. Combining three interrelated aspects – problematization, policy aspirations and techniques of governance – the analysis shed light on which significant elements are overlooked attempting to reduce alcohol use and thereby affecting the efficiency of the efforts Michel Foucault provides the premise for the analysis through his ideas on power/knowledge, biopoli-­‐ tics, governmentality and problematization, which Carol Bacchi operationalizes through the critical method to policy analysis 'What’s the Problem Represented to be?' (WPR). The study is based upon the major Danish health policies in place to deal with alcohol as well as supporting qualitative empiri-­‐ cal data. To undertake the analysis the context is established through a situational analysis; the prob-­‐ lematization in the Danish alcohol policies is scrutinized and reflected upon through the WPR ap-­‐ proach; and predominant techniques of governance are identified and the fit with the policy aspira-­‐ tions examined. Through a social constructivist position and deductive approach to research the em-­‐ pirical data is interpreted and discussed to highlight implications within this social phenomenon to understand how come Danish contemporary alcohol policies have not been able to reduce the number of people having a harmful alcohol consumption level more. This Thesis argues that there is a partial misfit between the applied techniques of governance and the aspirations of Danish alcohol policies. This is mainly due to a predominant focus at the demand side of alcohol use, where issues concerning the power and influence of the supply side are disregarded, and the producers profit from the liberal policies in place and the lack of restrictions. The most significant findings in this research are the disagreement of who carries the responsibility of alcohol use; the le-­‐ gitimizing effect categories have on the Danish alcohol culture and on the conducts of producers; as well as the lack of adaption to how youth is targeted through new media. Actors that wish to understand which overlooked elements in policies that affect efficiency can gain alternative insights through this research, but topics for future research on the efficiency of effort aim-­‐ ing at reducing alcohol consumption endure and are elaborated upon towards the end of this Thesis.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2014
Number of pages120