Drinking stories as a narrative genre: The five classic themes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Drinking stories feature widely in Western societies. Many people eagerly share their stories in the aftermath of drinking events. These stories are also common in books, movies, music and the media. Based on qualitative interviews with 104 young Norwegian heavy episodic drinkers, the article seeks to establish drinking stories as a distinct narrative genre. We argue that this narrative genre of drinking stories comes from an oral storytelling tradition which uses transgressions to trigger interest, entertain, and challenge commonly held views. These transgressions typically come in the form of playful violations of conventions and common sense and tend to centre around five classic themes: sex, bodily harm, bodily fluids, lawbreaking and pranks. While often dismissed as trivial, vulgar and of little literary value, drinking stories are highly valued by many people and have significant consequences for how people experience drinking and behave while being drunk.


External organisations
  • University of Oslo
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


  • alcohol, drinking story, genre, narrative analysis, narrative criminology, transgression
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)406-419
JournalActa Sociologica
Issue number4
Early online date2019 Mar 18
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Nov 1
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes