Drinking Cultures: Alcohol and Identity
Thomas M. Wilson
Berg Publishers, 2005 - Social Science - 281 pages
Alcohol is not only big business, it has become an essential part of social relations in so many cultures that its global importance may be outdistancing its critics. Despite grim health warnings, its consumption is at an all-time high in many parts of the developed world. Perhaps because drinking has always played a key role in identity, its uses and meanings show no signs of abating. What does sake tell us about Japan or burgundy about France? How does the act of consuming or indeed abstaining from alcohol tie in with self-presentation, ethnicity, class and culture? How important is alcohol to feelings of belonging and notions of resistance?Answering these intriguing questions and many more, this timely book looks at alcohol consumption across cultures and what drinking means to the people who consume or, equally tellingly, refuse to consume. From Ireland to Hong Kong, Mexico to Germany, alcohol plays a key role in a wide range of functions: religious, familial, social, even political. Drinking Cultures situates its consumption within the context of these wider cultural practices and reveals how class, ethnicity and nationalism are all expressed through this very popular commodity. Drawing on original fieldwork, contributors look at the interplay of culture and power in bars and pubs, the significance of advertising symbols, the role of drink in day-to-day rituals and much more. The result is the first sustained, cross-cultural study of the profound impact alcohol has on national identity throughout the world today.
The book includes 2 maps, 2 tables, 2 diagrams.