The Availability of Alcohol and Alcohol Problems: Some Theoretical Explanations and Empirical Consequences

  • Jerome Rabow
  • Ronald K. Watts


Stating that the availability of resources influences social life would indeed seem obvious. Cities and ports are built at the mouths of rivers, valleys attract nomads and urban villagers, and urban centers have served as gravitational pulls upon members of society. Yet, the availability of resources has not been systematically studied in social science research. The number of works utilizing this concept seems all too few. One such work involved the choice of friends, which was shown to be determined by position of residence in a housing complex rather than by personality or race (Deutsch and Collins, 1951). The destruction of resources brings to mind the death by dieselization of at least one community (Cottrel, 1951). Another study on prostitution reveals how such resources may influence commuting and residential patterns (Goldman, 1981). Recently the issue of availability has come to the fore in the area of handguns and violent crimes (Cook, 1981), while tourism has been linked with alcohol consumption (Watts and Rabow, 1981). After these observations are made, one may also, upon further reflection note that the building of a library or a bar in a neighborhood might not increase or modify the behavioral patterns of members located with proximal access to the new resource. The library and bar might lose in the competition with television or other resources for the time, money, and energy of community members. While there may not be immediate changes in the patterns of use of these newly available resources, the continuous encounter with these resources could effect changes in use over time. This suggests that the mere availability of resources does not lead to increased utilization. In the case of alcohol consumption, which has so many personal and social functions, its availability and utilization is perhaps even more problematic than the utilization of either natural or social resources.


Alcohol Problem Minority Status Household Composition Physical Availability Social Area 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jerome Rabow
    • 1
  • Ronald K. Watts
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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