Drink and World War in Britain (thesis)

Robert R.G. Duncan, “Panic over the Pub: Drink and the First World War” (Ph.D. thesis, University of  St. Andrews, 2008).

from website:


My Ph.D thesis, Panic over the Pub: Drink and the First World War, considers the causes, consequences and control of popular drinking behaviour and how broader currents of social debate affected the perception of the alleged alcohol problem during the First World War, shedding new light upon government inclinations towards state control during the conflict. Within current historiography there is a consummate lack of understanding concerning the formation of opinion on the drink problem ‘from below’ and its effect upon the ‘high politics’ of the decision making procedure. My thesis considers how ‘drink’ and ‘leisure’ became increasingly contentious and a domestic problem due principally to established fears concerning working class behaviour and military failures on the Western Front. My thesis argues that moral panic, rather than factual certainties, dictated attitudes to drinking in Britain during the war. An investigation of the Central Control Board, a government body established to deal specifically with the drink problem in the exigencies of conflict, constitutes the central core of my thesis, together with an assessment of the role of Lord D’Abernon, Chairman of this organisation.

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