Drinking Studies Showcase: Women and Online Alcohol Recovery Groups

This is the latest instalment to the Drinking Studies Showcase feature. Back in June, 2022, the ‘Women and Alcohol’ and ‘Sobriety, Abstinence and Moderation‘ DSN clusters hosted a joint lunchtime seminar. Dr Sally Sanger and Claire Davey provided short talks about their research on online alcohol recovery and sobriety groups. It’s a pleasure to be able to share the (edited) recording with you all.

Summary of talks:

Women and online alcohol recovery groups: conformity and empowerment (Dr Sally Sanger, University of Sheffield)
Sally explores gender-related findings from a study of alcohol online recovery support groups. She draws on an analysis of forum posts and interviews to discuss users’ (sometimes surprising) assumptions about gender in the groups. The talk touches on issues such as motherhood, female ageing, and society’s view of female drinking, and speculates as to why online alcohol support groups seem to attract so many women.

‘Goodbye mindless drinking and hello mindful living’: Sobriety as gendered self-care? (Claire Davey, Canterbury Christ Church University)  
Claire shares some of her emerging research findings and explores how contemporary sober women, within online sobriety communities, reframe their sobriety as a form of self-care, and position sobriety as a tool for their health, development, and empowerment. This presentation teases out some of the connections between feminism, gender and self-care, through the lens of sobriety, and draws from a variety of sources, including posts from social media platforms, observational data, and interview transcripts. Her recently published paper, ‘Goodbye mindless drinking and hello mindful living’, is available here.

Feature image: Luwadlin Bosman

Sally Sanger
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Sally completed her PhD at the University of Sheffield Information School in 2021. For this, she researched online support groups for people with alcohol problems, looking specifically at groups that do not follow the 12-step programme of Alcoholics Anonymous, and the impact they can have on what people believe about Alcohol Use Disorder. She is now hoping to do further research into the Sober Curious / Positive Sobriety movement. Previously, she worked in the field of patient information, mainly in the NHS. This included running the Leicestershire Health Information Network for 10 years, a support network for those providing information to the public on health. She also worked for 2 years for Macmillan Cancer Support, supporting and developing information services in a large geographical patch. In 2015 she obtained an MSc in Health Informatics from UCL, and then moved back to the University of Sheffield to undertake the PhD.

Claire Davey
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Claire Davey is a PhD candidate at Canterbury Christ Church University, UK. Her research explores UK women’s increasing engagement with sobriety or alcohol-free living, and the growth of female-led online sobriety communities. She is currently the Managing Editor of 'Points'.

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