Questions about drink – how it is used, how it should be regulated and the social risks it presents – have been a source of sustained and heated dispute in recent years. In The politics of alcohol, Nicholls puts these concerns in historical context by providing a detailed and extensive survey of public debates on alcohol from the introduction of licensing in the mid-sixteenth century through to recent controversies over 24-hour licensing, binge drinking and the cheap sale of alcohol in supermarkets. In doing so, he shows that concerns over drinking have always been tied to broader questions about national identity, individual freedom and the relationship between government and the market. He argues that in order to properly understand the cultural status of alcohol we need to consider what attitudes to drinking tell us about the principles that underpin our modern, liberal society. The politics of alcohol presents a wide-ranging, accessible and critically illuminating guide to the social, political and cultural history of alcohol in England. Covering areas including law, public policy, medical thought, media representations and political philosophy, it will provide essential reading for anyone interested in either the history of alcohol consumption, alcohol policy or the complex social questions posed by drinking today.
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