Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Myth vs Legend, Does Pub Culture Still Exist?

September 16, 2009 · 2 Comments

What is there to say, really, that has not already been said? More than anything else I was told before coming here, I was told that pubs were ingrained into the English culture, often known as pub culture. Now having been to a pubs myself, including a few busts that were propagated largely by older men, I am still not sure that I can pin-point just what “pub culture” is. I guess in that way, pub culture is much like the British identity, elusive and complex.

However, there are a few keys things I can note about  the drinking, or pub culture I have been so often encouraged to look out for. Perhaps I can sort out a little of the truth from the myth pub culture has really grown to be. Yes, it is true that English drink more, more often, and earlier than seems to be the practice in the US. At 4 o’clock in the afternoon, if you walk by a pub you will encounter a large crowd of people, often in business suits, standing outside the pub drinking. Another thing, people stand outside. Most pubs, perhaps for lack of standing or sitting room inside the pub, or maybe so people can smoke, or even just because they want fresh air, tend to have large crowds standing in front of the pub often under an awning. Yes it is true, people seem to be relatively friendly in these pubs, but, they still come with a group and tend to stay with a group.

This brings us to the bog winner question: do pubs and pub culture act as a window into the British culture? I would say more often than not, no. While pubs of course demonstrate the key difference  between the late night drinking of America and the all day drinking of England, beyond that they illustrate little more. In my time spent there I have interacted with little to no “Brits” and found few pubs that even held my age group. Once we arrive at UEA, I look forward to see how this will change as we will more back into the college town setting we are used to in Carlisle. But even still, the mainly older crowds in pubs forces me to wonder, is pub culture a thing of the past. Are younger people simply going there and getting drunk and somehow closing the curtains on this “window” we Americans eagerly attempt to look through?

Categories: Megan · Pubs

2 responses so far ↓

  •   Karl // Sep 19th 2009 at 15:24

    But WHY do our pub/bar cultures differ?

  •   Jim // Dec 7th 2009 at 10:45

    All I remember about pubs in UK is how much smoking is going on. I spend several weeks there for work and man I think I took of several years of my life (I guess that means I spent too much time in them 🙂 )

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