Alcohol and Flourishing for Australian Women in Midlife: A Qualitative Study of Negotiating (Un)Happiness

Kristen Foley, Megan Warin, Samantha Meyer, Emma Miller, Paul Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


This article responds to calls for empirically grounded and critically analytical research on the sociology of happiness. We explore how 35 Australian women in midlife (45–64 years) navigate alcohol use in the context of gendered lifecourses. In response to emerging themes around happiness in and through alcohol consumption during inductive analysis, data were re-analysed using neo-Aristotlean notions of flourishing. This illuminated alcohol consumption for women in midlife vis-á-vis moment-in-time pleasure, lifecourse happiness and management of gendered constraints. Drawing on Ahmed’s concepts of ‘affective economies’ and ‘happiness and unhappiness archives’ we contemporise Aristotle’s notion of flourishing and argue that changing structures of feeling for women in midlife give rise to differing emotions that attach to alcohol use. Understanding the affective reasons for alcohol consumption among this population provides new avenues to think about how alcohol consumption is purposed by women to make and make do with (un)happiness during midlife.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)751-767
Number of pages17
JournalSociology-The Journal of The British Sociological Association
Issue number4
Early online date14 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • affective economies
  • sociology of happiness
  • midlife women
  • flourishing
  • alcohol


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