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Title: Biographies of Drink: A Case Study Approach to our Historical Relationship with Alcohol
Authors: Toner, Deborah F.
Hailwood, Mark
First Published: 1-Feb-2015
Number of Pieces: 9
Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Citation: Toner, DF;Hailwood, M, ed. Toner, DF;Hailwood, M, Biographies of Drink: A Case Study Approach to our Historical Relationship with Alcohol, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015
Abstract: Scholars in the burgeoning field of drinking studies usually fall into two broad camps: those investigating the social and cultural importance of alcohol consumption, in terms of identity formation, gender relations, generational attitudes, and material culture; and those examining economic and political aspects of the history of, and contemporary policies towards, alcohol, including taxation, commerce, production, regulation, and public health. The central aim of this volume is to propose one methodological pathway in which these two broad perspectives can participate in a dialogue to establish how the economic, political, and socio-cultural dimensions of drinking are connected. In contemporary Britain, the focus of political discourse about alcohol consumption is on the need to regulate public consumption of alcohol to reduce drink-related disorder, crime, and health problems; consequently, fiscal, licensing, pricing, and marketing policies have been mooted or tried as solutions. Essential to the shaping of constructive political and economic policies towards alcohol consumption, however, is a proper understanding of the social and cultural importance of drinking within a particular society. This volume, therefore, seeks to examine the economic, political, and socio-cultural dynamics of alcohol consumption in different historical and cultural contexts, and from a range of disciplinary perspectives, to highlight the multifaceted and complex layers of meaning, practice, ritual, regulation, community, and identity that are involved in alcohol consumption. Furthermore, by highlighting this complexity and diversity in issues surrounding alcohol use, the volume aims to highlight what might be missing from contemporary debates about alcohol in Britain. The volume is organised around a central methodology we term “Biographies of Drink”. Drawing on Arjun Appadurai’s work in The Social Life of Things (1986), the volume conceives of alcoholic drinks and alcohol consumption as multi-dimensional referents involved in complex economic, political, and social processes and debates that are culturally specific. By pursuing a flexible biographical methodology – applied variously to particular drinks or brands, drinking environments or clubs, legislative acts or policies, individual drinkers or drinking types, and so on – the aim is to make connections across economic, political, social and cultural issues that often remain divorced within the scholarship on drinking. Moreover, the common biographical approach, telling the stories of drink-related phenomena from cradle to grave, or tracing the social, cultural, economic and political aspects of a moment of particular significance within a biography of drink, provides numerous opportunities for cross-cultural comparison and interdisciplinary dialogue, through which provocative insights emerge and, hopefully, stimulate further scholarship.
ISBN: 1-4438-7155-9
Embargo on file until: 1-Jan-10000
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Book
Appears in Collections:Books & Book Chapters, School of Historical Studies

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