Health/ urban geographer Clare Herrick discusses her paper that begins from the assertion that, 'South Africans are generally aware of the liquor abuse problem and many have had personal experiences or know family members who have had personal experiences' (Akinboade and Mokwena, 2010, 69). These experiences represent a domain in which researchers need to 'address the taken-for-granted sites of health experience, where gaps in academic knowledge intersect with gaps in material opportunity and personal well-being' (Kearns, 1997, 274). Thus, while significant and important work has been undertaken within epidemiology and public health to quantify the extent to which alcohol contributes to South Africa's significant burden of infectious and non-communicable disease, rates of violence and injury, sexual risk taking and 'intimate partner violence'; too few studies have qualitatively explored the dynamics and experiences of alcohol and its complex intersections with the conditions of urban poverty. This paper therefore explores narratives of liquor use, abuse and its consequences in three settlements in Cape Town and argues that alcohol consumption is an embedded experience that is both a driver and consequence of poverty. Drawing on focus group findings, this idea is brought out through attention to three themes: tales of cause and consequence; gendered interactions and societal expectations; and prestige. The paper then turns to a discussion of respondents' suggestions for how alcohol consumption and its harms might best be tackled. The significance of these suggestions vis-à-vis the current regulatory environment are further examined in the paper's conclusion.
Herrick, C. The moment he starts drinking the devil comes out of him : alcohol use and abuse in Cape Town. (2013) 7 pp.