Media coverage of the “problems” associated with alcohol is now widespread. However, there have been very few analyses either of newspaper coverage of alcohol or media coverage of alcohol policy, especially outside Europe or North America. However, this paper argues that given mounting concern with the longterm health, economic, social and developmental consequences of risky drinking in the Global South, an exploration of newspaper coverage of nascent alcohol policy in such a context is both timely and valuable. This paper therefore explores how two alcohol control policies – the Western Cape Liquor Bill and the City of Cape Town’s liquor by-laws – have been debated in two regional, English-language South African newspapers over a four year period between 2007 and 2011. In so doing, it draws out the tensions between alcohol as a source of livelihood in a context of endemic unemployment and chronic poverty and alcohol as a source of poverty, crime, violence, social disintegration and health risks. It consequently argues that in SA, alcohol serves multiple, overlapping and often competing social, economic and political agendas. Furthermore, it contends that the constructive processes guiding public and political opinion are inextricable from the contested and ambiguous nature of alcohol itself.
Herrick, C. Shebeens in the news : contesting alcohol control policies in the western cape, South Africa. Presented at British Sociological Association (BSA) Medical Sociology Group annual conference. (2012)