Stakeholder and consumer participation is generally seen as a critical part of effective alcohol policy making as it has a direct impact on policy implementation. In the advent of COVID-19, the views and experiences of stakeholders and consumers were integral to how countries responded to the virus. The involvement of alcohol stakeholders and consumers raises critical questions about policy making practices. Using Grounded Theory (GT) methods amongst 20 drinkers and six alcohol stakeholders, I examined the views and experiences of stakeholders and alcohol consumers in Botswana during COVID-19. I identified two interrelated core categories of Balancing the Drinking Act and Problematic Youth Drinking that were prominent as the country dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic. First, I argue that balancing the drinking act suggests the need for government to balance alcohol regulation with the needs of drinkers. Second, I highlight that problematic youth drinking relates to an emerging yet consistent belief that young people in Botswana are collectively responsible for alcohol “problems.” These key themes center consumer and stakeholder participation in alcohol policy development. Moreover, the current analysis demonstrates the interplay between alcohol use and prohibition during COVID-19, and how it might be mediated by cultural scripts used by consumers and stakeholders in Botswana.


alcohol consumption, youth, consumer participation, grounded theory, COVID-19, Botswana

Author Bio(s)

Tebogo B. Sebeelo is a Lecturer (Sociology) in the Department of Sociology, University of Botswana. His research interests are in alcohol and drug policy practices, social problems, health disparities and HIV/AIDS. His research mainly utilizes qualitative methods. He holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Miami, Florida, USA obtained in May 2021. Please direct correspondence to sebeelot@ub.ac.bw.


I want to acknowledge the reviewers and editors of The Qualitative Report for the worthy feedback on the earlier versions of this manuscript.

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