Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Linda Liska Belgrave

Second Committee Member

John W. Murphy

Third Committee Member

Karen A. Callaghan


Concern with the burden of alcohol has led many governments to develop social control strategies aimed at regulating consumption and its related harm. Such strategies include amongst others, increasing taxes, prices and reducing hours of operation, as well as stiff penalties for those who transgress alcohol laws. The current study investigated the social motives and meanings of alcohol drinkers and if the implementation of alcohol regulations had an impact on how their drinking experience. In 2008, the government of Botswana imposed a 30% levy on all alcohol products to reduce the consumption of alcohol and its associated harms. Over and above the levy, new laws regulating operating hours for drinking outlets were introduced to reduce drinking. The study applied grounded theory methods to examine alcohol consumption in the midst of these alcohol control policy mechanisms in Botswana and sought to highlight the social and subjective meanings accorded to alcohol consumption by Batswana drinkers. Four major categories and eight sub-categories emerged from the study. The core category was labelled as Negotiating the Drinking Self and is used by most drinkers to either adapt or resist the alcohol control measures throughout the life-course of drinkers. The study recognizes and theorizes resistance and highlights that contrary to the literature on resistance and alcohol policy, individual acts of resistance are as effective as organized resistance. In sum, the study findings highlight the need for the government of Botswana to seek, engage, and dialogue with alcohol drinkers and understand deep-seated meanings about how drinkers experience alcohol. The findings point to the need for government to “take the role of the drinkers” when formulating alcohol interventions. The implications of this study and its contributions to existing literature on alcohol studies are further outlined in this thesis.


Alcohol Policy; Alcohol Regulation; Resistance; Meanings; Grounded Theory