Historical Meanings of Irish-American Drinking

  • Richard Stivers


Irish-Americans have for a long time had one of the highest rates of alcoholism of any ethnic group in the United States, a country that itself has had an extremely high rate of alcoholism (See Appendix). The story of Irish-American drinking begins in Ireland, but does not end there as some have thought. Robert Bales (1944, 1962), for instance, in an otherwise erudite work thought that Irish attitudes toward drinking should be similar to those of Irish-Americans. That is one reason why he doubted statistics that indicated a higher rate of alcoholism among Irish-Americans than among the Irish in Ireland (Bales, 1944, p. 34). In my earlier work (Stivers, 1976), I addressed the statistical discrepancy between the two groups and attempted to show that the cultural attitudes toward drinking were dissimilar and moreover that the structural context of these attitudes were distinct.


Ethnic Identity Heavy Drinking Street Gang Social Club Negative Identity 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Stivers
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social WorkIllinois State UniversityNormalUSA

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