The University of Wisconsin Press


Sociology / Public Policy

 

Contested Meanings
The Construction of Alcohol Problems
Joseph R. Gusfield



Observations of alcohol in American culture

Joseph R. Gusfield has been for decades the most creative, penetrating, and far-sighted sociologist of alcohol's ambiguous place in American society. Combining the perspectives and methods of historian, anthopologist, 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years, as well as several fascinating but little-known ethnographic studies of bars in San Diego and a previously unpublished study of court-mandated programs for convicted drinking-drivers.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 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.

"Contested Meanings collects important work that will have broad appeal. A consistent theme in Gusfield's work is the conceptualization of problems. That theme is continued here, both at a societal level, in his discussions of alternative conceptualizations of drinking, drinking problems, and driving problems, and at a face-to-face level, in his observational studies of tavern behavior and its relation to drinking-driver arrests & processing. There is no equivalent book in this field."—Robin Room, Addiction Research Foundation

Joseph R. Gusfield is professor emeritus of sociology at the University of California, San Diego. He has lectured and taught throughout the world and served as a consultant to numerous governmental bodies on issues of alcoholism and drunk driving. The former president of the Society for the Study of Social Problems, the Pacific Sociological Association, and the Alcohol and Temperance History Group, he is the author and editor of many books, including Symbolic Crusade: Status Politics and the American Temperance Movement and The Culture of Public Problems: Drinking-Driving and the Symbolic Order.

Gusfield's book has a background of a grey spiral, and the title is white on a red box.

May 1996
384 pp.    6 x 9
Paper $21.95 x  
ISBN 0-299-14934-X
 

The cloth edition, ISBN 978-0-299-14930-7, is out of print


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