Contested meanings: the construction of alcohol problems

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University of Winconsin Press, 1996 - Social Science - 374 pages
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Joseph R. Gusfield has been for decades the most creative, penetrating, and far-sighted sociologist of alcohol's ambiguous place in American society. Combining in his work the perspectives and methods of historian, anthropologist, and sociologist, Gusfield brings together in this volume many of his most important articles from a span of twenty years, as well as several fascinating but little-known ethnographic studies of bars in San Diego and a previously unpublished study of court-mandated procedures involving convicted drinking-drivers.
Gusfield begins by offering two new constructionist analyses of social problems, focusing on alcohol. His theme throughout Contested Meanings is the conflicting and changing ways society defines social problems (when does alcohol consumption cross the line from social activity to social problem?) and on the social and policy consequences of those definitions. He emerges in the course of the book as a thoughtful and realistic social critic who looks beyond analyses of drinking as pathological behavior to consider the place of alcohol in American popular and leisure culture.

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Contested Meanings and the Cultural Authority
The Rhetoric
Rituals of Drinking Time

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Paul Gootenberg
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About the author (1996)

Joseph R. Gusfield is professor emeritus of sociology at the University of California, San Diego.

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