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An Examination of How Professionals Who Abstain from Alcohol Communicatively Negotiate Their Non-drinking Identity

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As the majority of full-time employees drink alcohol, and alcohol can play an important role in professional interactions and career success, the current study examined the ways in which working professionals who abstain from alcohol manage communication about their non-drinking status. Framed by the theoretical lens of facework, semi-structured, in-depth interviews of 29 non-drinking professionals revealed that non-drinking in the real world is a deviant act that can be face threatening for non-drinkers and drinkers alike. Consequently, non-drinkers deployed a variety of preventive and corrective facework strategies (including passing and humor) to mitigate and remediate positive and negative face threat. This investigation uncovered practical communication tools individuals can use to abstain from alcohol without compromising their careers.
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Keywords: Facework; Interprofessional Communication; Non-drinking; Politeness

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 2, 2015

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