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CHAPTER 7.docx

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SOC 2070
Norman Dubeski

CHAPTER 7 Why should sociologists study alcohol use?  The excessive consumption of alcohol makes it difficult for most people to effectively perform their expected institutional roles, marital, familial, economic and educational. Failing to perform roles as a result of intoxication is a form of deviance  The effects of alcohol facilitate or are associated with the enactment of many forms of deviance, including crime, violence, sexual misbehaviour, and needless accidents  At certain times/in certain circumstances the mere consumption of alcohol, regardless of its consequences, has been or is regarded as both legally and informally non-normative  While very few sociologists define deviance by harm, harm and deviance are not randomly related to one another, many of the most harmful activities are condemned  There’s a concern that practically all adult members of the society harbour when it comes to drinking: alcohol consumption among minors Who Drinks?  There are at least two measures of alcohol consumption: drinking vs. abstinence, and drinking vs. drinking to excess  Social class or socioeconomic status correlates strongly and consistently with the consumption of alcohol. The higher the social class, the greater the likelihood of drinking. Strong correlation between education and drinking (college graduates drink way more often then those who have no education) if this talking about binge drinking though, it is reversed  Gender correlates with drinking strongly, Men are consistently more likely to drink than women  Age is also strongly correlated with drinking. Drinking is low in early adolescence , shoots up in middle to late teens, declines slowly after peaking at 19-20 Constructionism  Objectively: legal drug use is a far more serious social problem than illegal drug use. Yet illegal drug use is socially constructed as a more serious problem.  Subjectively: in the way that the public regards it and the government deals with it, the consumption of illicit substances it more serious social problem Essentialism  Alcohol’s objectively harmful effects are softened and rerouted by society’s norms Acute Effects  The effects of alcohol are determined by the volume of alcohol consumed  Two people with the same measured level of intoxication may exhibit different behaviours  Alcohol is a drug with measured effects as well as a social phenomenon, it is a depressant, if dose is too high, the body’s organs will shut down and cause death, but it is legally available to purchase  Women, people with lower body fat and those who haven’t eaten recently are more sensitive to the effect of alcohol Alcohol Abuse and Risky Behaviour  Binge Drinking: a form of alcohol abuse, it is the consumption of 5 drinks or more three times a month.  Risky Behaviour: behaviours that society regards as non-normative, harmful. Driving while drunk, engaging in criminal behaviour, putting oneself into a position in which become a victim is likely.  Drinkers and people who are intoxicated are more likely to engage in risky, deviant behaviour than non-drinkers.  Relationship between alcohol abuse and deviant behaviour is strongly contingent on drinking locales/contexts. o It isn’t heavy alcohol consumption that counts in this relationship, it’s the social, cultural and local contexts where drinking happens. Hypothesis: What causes higher levels of alcohol to co-vary with deviant behaviour?  Disinhibition Hypothesis: alcohol causes risky behaviour. Because alcohol’s effect releases the inhibitions from committing dangerous acts.  Susceptibility Hypothesis: alcohol abuse and engaging in deviant behaviour are related because they are the effects of a common cause o People who drink heavily are also the sort of anti-social people who engage in deviant behaviour  Reciprocal Hypothesis: alcohol abuse and risky behaviour feed into and fuel one another. Alcohol Consumption: Highway Death  Alcohol consumption substantially increases the likelihood of a fatal automobile accident o A third of all fatal car crashes are alcohol related o The intoxication of the drive substantially increased the odds of dying in an accident o Drinking increased the likelihood of engaging in deviant driving Alcohol and Violence  Violence extremely rarely accompanies alcohol consumption o In respect to violent episodes, drinking is an extremely frequent variable  Two ways alcohol and violence are related: o Drinkers have higher rates of violence than non-drinkers o The more that someone drinks, the greater the likelihood that he or she will inflict violence on another person  Alcohol is also related to being a victim of violence, drinkers are more likely to be victims of violence Three ways to compare violence and drinking: International Picture  Ledermann Hypothesis: all countries follow the same statistical distribution for alcohol consumption. o The higher the consumption, the greater the medical and behavioural problems, the higher alcohol mortality rate o Consequence: the top-alcohol consuming countries will also be the top countries with respect to committing violent acts o Criticism: examination of evidence disproves this empirical test because different countries define homicide in different ways, alcohol statistics are incomplete. As much as half the alcohol consumed globally does not appear in official sales/statistics o There is almost no correspondence between the two sets of figures o The factors that cause violence generally and criminal homicide are too varied to draw a direct causal line from high per capita levels of alcohol consumption and violence Alcohol and Murder in America  Over time, there’s been a decline in the use of alcohol in the US  1950’s-1960’s: stable alcohol consumption rate, stable murder rate  1962+: alcohol consumption increases, homicide rate
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