Friday, December 11, 2015

Research Blog #7: My Case


I chose not to use a specific court case in my research paper, as there were none related specifically to the theoretical framework that I chose to use in my paper. Instead, I chose to use Malcolm Gladwell's analysis of distinct groups of people and their drinking behaviors to illustrate how culture can be the underlying factor in alcohol use and behavioral patterns.

The first group of people that Gladwell talks about is the Camba of Bolivia. The Camba would go on “weekly benders (AKA: drinking parties) with [180-proof] alcohol”. Shockingly, Heath describes the Camba as having “no social pathology...no arguments, no disputes, no sexual aggression, no verbal aggression. There was pleasant conversation or silence” (Gladwell). This is an interesting discovery because it shows that despite near dangerous amounts of drinking, the Camba do not show any type of behavioral changes that are prevalent among American college students who drink. He contrasts the Camba to the students of Brown University, who, after consuming beer turn into a "hormonal frenzy on Friday nights" (Gladwell). 

Next, Gladwell compares the drinking habits of Italian immigrants and Irish immigrants in New Haven. The two groups, both of which were subjected to the same alcohol laws and had similar thirsts for alcoholic beverages, differed drastically in their rates of alcoholism. Despite being daily drinkers, the Italian immigrants showed much lower rates of alcoholism and behavioral changes than the Irish immigrants (Gladwell).

The common factor that ties the two groups together is that they both consume alcohol only in specific, structured contexts. The Camba, though excessive drinkers, only do so in the context of their village rituals. The Italians, though daily drinkers, only do so in moderation and once a day with a meal. This is a direct contrast to the Brown University students who drink in an unregulated and unstructured environment. As such, their behaviors shift in a manner that corresponds directly to the environment in which they drink. Drinking in dark, loud, wild, and unregulated environments brings out shifts in personality like increased aggression and increase in sexual promiscuity.

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