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Solidarity or self-interest? Public opinion in relation to alcohol policies in Sweden

Journal article
Authors David Karlsson
Sören Holmberg
Lennart Weibull
Published in Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
Volume 37
Issue 2
Pages 105–121
ISSN 1455-0725
Publication year 2020
Published at School of Public Administration
Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Department of Political Science
Pages 105–121
Language en
Keywords Alkoholpolitik, opinionsforskning, ideologi, som-institutet, Sverige
Subject categories Political Science, Public Administration Studies, Public health science


Aim: The aim of this article is to study how people sometimes accept policies that could in a narrow sense be seen as in conflict with their own self-interest. Design: The study is based on survey data relating to public opinion on alcohol policy in Sweden targeted at people aged 16–85 years 2016–2017. Among the 3400 people questioned, the response rate was 52%. Results: The results show that people’s perception of the problematic societal consequences of alcohol, in combination with ideological norms regarding the responsibility of individuals, is much more important in explaining public opinion than self-interest factors. It is the view that there is a problem at the societal level, rather than at the personal level, that is most essential for explaining opinions on alcohol restrictions. General knowledge of alcohol-related matters has some effect, whereas personal experiences of close affiliates excessive drinking does not seem to color the opinions expressed. Conclusion: Support for restrictive alcohol policies in Swedish public opinion is mainly founded on norms of solidarity and astute problem analyses at the societal level, and to a much lesser extent on egoism and personal experiences.

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