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Drinking Occasions: Comparative Perspectives on Alcohol and Culture by Professor Dwight B Heath
The main purpose of this book is to provide an insight into the wide variety of drinking occasions which exist around the world. It is the result of nearly 40 years of research by the author about drinking practices and about a dozen years of concern about national and international policies as they relate to this important part of human culture.

As such, this volume consciously does not focus upon drinking problems, alcohol abuse, or harmful drinking patterns, although those topics are certainly not ignored. Rather, the scientific and epidemiological literature on the adverse health and social consequences of irresponsible drinking is put into the broader context of how people drink, what they do and what they say.

In making available an account of the diversity of normal drinking behaviour and largely beneficial drinking patterns, this book seeks to describe how drinking behaviour is integrated with a wide range of other human activities instead of existing as an isolated phenomenon.

Drinking Occasions is primarily divided into six investigative chapters. Chapter 1 analyses the key question of when people drink, providing a framework for the manner in which drinking occasions fit into the rhythm of life for individuals, communities, and even whole countries and cultures.

Chapter 2 shifts the focus to where people drink, showing how the setting often affects the meanings and outcomes of drinking. Chapter 3 then examines who drinks, turning the spotlight on such social categories as age, gender, education, occupation, class, ethnicity, and religion. Chapter 4 looks at how people drink, any occasion being framed by a certain set of etiquette and paraphernalia. Chapter 5 provides a natural extension to this discussion by introducing what people drink, and how different types of drinks relate to each other. Chapter 6 deals with the issue of why people drink or choose not to drink. It examines medical, religious, aesthetic, moral and other kinds of reasons as well as questions of relevance. In addition to these 6 main chapters there is a final chapter which draws upon the broad panorama of human experiences in order to offer a few conclusions and implications.

Drinking Occasions, together with an extensive list of references offers a valuable insight into human nature and our relationship with alcohol both past and present and is a useful springboard for those interested in pursuing a particular topic in more depth.

Drinking Occasions is published by Brunner/Mazel, 325 Chesnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106 USA

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