Hildigunnur Ólafsdóttir og Unnur María Bergsveinsdóttir: Reykjavík Nightlife Narratives
For many young adults, going out is an important activity. In the urban culture of today the bar is a venue for socialising, for asserting one's self image and for stating one's place within a certain group or within a certain scene. The aim of the Reykjavík Nightlife Narratives study is to shed light on the role played by alcohol and licensed premises in the life of young adults. Questions in this study include: what motivates people to go to bars and what are their expectations? What kind of control did the participants exercise over their drinking and why? Did getting intoxicated serve a purpose? Data was gathered from eight women and five men in the form of 56 written descriptions of a night out or social circumstances where alcohol was consumed. In interpreting the data material, the authors make use of thematic analysis and draw on Simmel's and Partanens's theories on sociability as an end in itself, Maffesoli's theories on urban tribes and the construction of identity through the expression of taste and Foucault's notion of heterotopias. The study shows that drinking serves to strengthen social bonds and is an important part of young adults' sociability. The kind of sociability that is exercised at Reykjavík's pubs allows the individual to act as a free agent. Groups are flexible and the Icelandic participants did not consider it problematic to leave a group of friends to look for fun or a change of atmosphere elsewhere. This finding is contrary to the ethics expressed by participants in comparable studies in Helsinki, Oslo and Stockholm. The Reykjavík nightlife is thus a venue where one's social capital is enriched and acquaintance with new people is made through common friends and acquaintances. Women and men behave alike and evaluate nights out by the same standard. The type of self–control exercised regarding alcohol consumption was event–related and depended on external circumstances. Health issues regarding drinking were rarely considered and discomfort due to hangover was considered an acceptable part of an enjoyable night out.
Keywords: sociability, alcohol, restaurants and pubs, narratives