The BBC has struggled to find a way of promoting the temperance movement today, so it has resorted to a little quiz...
It's not actually a quiz about 'binge-drinking history'. It's a quiz about alcohol control with such leading questions as this:
If you want to swot up on the history of binge-drinking, I thoroughly recommend Virginia Berridge's article 'The normalisation of binge drinking? An historical and cross cultural investigation with implications for action' (available as a PDF). But if you can't be bothered, here's the first line which tells you gives you the gist:
Binge drinking is nothing new in British society and has not always attracted disapproval.
Binge drinking is, of course, what we used to call simply 'drinking'. Berridge shows how the use of the more scary-sounding 'binge-drinking' has spread in a short period of time, first by the media:
And then by politicians:
The time-lag between the term being used by The Times and it being used in Parliament indicates that the moral panic over binge-drinking is largely an invention of the media. In his article 'Binge drinking and moral panics: historical parallels?', Peter Borsay compares today's feeding frenzy with that of the early-18th century 'Gin Crisis', and concludes:
Both are driven by pressure groups and an expanding media industry, focus primarily on the role of women, are urban based, and are underpinned by public perceptions of government complacency and an element of xenophobia.
Both could be categorized as a form of 'moral panic', that is, an event constructed in the media that draws its power not primarily from its inherent features but from its capacity to mediate a package of wider social anxieties.
There is nothing new under the sun. It's just a pity there aren't a few more historians in Parliament. Or at the BBC for that matter.