1st Edition

Social Drinking in Cultural Context

ISBN 9780415892506
Published January 7, 2013 by Routledge
200 Pages

USD $42.95

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Book Description

Alcohol: Social Drinking in Cultural Context critically examines alcohol use across cultures and through time. This short text is a framework for students to self-consciously examine their beliefs about and use of alcohol, and a companion text for teaching the primary concepts of anthropology to first-or second year college students.

Table of Contents

Preface  Acknowledgments  1. Introduction: Why is Drinking Interesting?  2. Alcohol in the Ancient World  3. Barbarians and Beerpots: European Drinking from the Celts to Victoria  4. A Short History of American Drinking  5. It’s Happy Hour! Modern American Drinking  6. Alcohol Advertising  7. Why do Students Drink?  8.Conclusion: Why do People Drink?  Bibliography

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Janet Chrzan received a Ph.D. in Nutritional Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008.


This is a phenomenal book. A good shot of history, equal parts anthropology and media analysis and a dash of wit and wisdom. This is the most sensible and balanced approach to alcohol consumption I have ever read. It should be required of all college students.

--Ken Albala, History, University of the Pacific

Instantly engaging, Janet Chrzan's historical and cross-cultural overview of views and practices related to alcohol as a "nurturing beverage" or "dangerous drug," brings to life the value of anthropological analysis to university students. Making a compelling case for alcohol as a "total social fact," enmeshed as it is with so many other facets of social life, Chrzan masterfully portrays the social meanings of alcohol use.

- Andrea Wiley, Anthropology, Indiana University, Bloomington

This lively and accessible book bubbles with intriguing details about the history and culture of alcohol consumption from the earliest archaeological evidence to contemporary U.S. college students’ arresting drinking diaries. It is an engaging introduction to anthropology which encourages critical thinking about the practices and meanings of campus drinking."

- Carole Counihan, Anthropology, Millersville University

This book should be required reading for any college student who has pre-gamed, bar-hopped, tail-gated, shot-gunned, played beer-pong, or done a beer bong. Janet Chrzan puts American drinking cultures in theoretical and comparative perspective, offering practical advice for limiting the harms of alcohol while still enjoying it sociably.

--Jeffrey M. Pilcher, History, University of Minnesota

Janet Chrzan has captured the all-encompassing hold of alcoholic beverages on our species from prehistoric villages to the modern college campus. Whether drinker or abstainer, we come away from this book with a better understanding of what drives us toward or away from this most paradoxical and universal of substances. By turns, alcohol can be viewed as inspirational and socializing, nutritional and medicinal, relaxing and restorative, or dangerous and destructive

-- Patrick McGovern, Ph.D. Scientific Director, Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

As a food historian who appreciates the long view of history, I heartily welcome this refreshing and highly useful book on the social implications of alcohol. With a balanced selection of material past and present, this is the perfect classroom guide to the basic issues and mores that have defined the role of alcohol down through time. It enlightens the student, invites self-examination, and hopefully provides a lasting framework for dealing with alcohol as a potent and yet highly deceptive medium for socialization

. --Dr. William Woys Weaver, Director, The Keystone Center for the Study of Regional Foods and Food Tourism


Janet Chrzan has written a probing, insightful (and incidentally often very amusing) study of alcohol use, alcoholism, intoxication, social drinking, and the role alcohol plays in many cultures, including, most specifically, our own. Her broad look at the problematic role of alcohol in American history is fascinating on its own; peeling back the layers of meaning in alcohol use and the social messages it conveys, she reveals a context that can frame much more of our social habits and beliefs.

-- Nancy Harmon Jenkins, author of The New Mediterranean Diet and many other books about Mediterranean food, wine, and culinary traditions