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Culture’s role in the link between alcohol and violence

Strict rules meant to restrain violent and otherwise unacceptable behavior may foster exactly what they are supposed to prevent. This was according to a recently released report from the International Center for Alcohol Policies concerning alcohol and violence.

According to the report, which examines alcohol and violence through a multiplicity of disciplines, a society or country which implements strict rules on behavior, etiquette, and social norms is likely may encourage the development of drinking cultures that are violent and unruly in nature.

Anne Fox, PhD, one of the contributors to the report and the founding director of Galahad SMS Ltd. in England, enumerates eleven points, which according to her are the cultural features shared by violent and violence-reinforcing societies. She also noted that these culture may be used to predict the levels of homicide, abuse, and other forms of violence within a given culture.

Most of the features enumerated by Dr. Fox apply to cultures that revere the male over the the female –those culture guided by patriarchal views. These features include the socialization of young males towards aggression, the unequal and high proportion of male youth in the population and society, the presence of strong codes towards male honor, and lastly, the general culture of male domination.

Violence and the perpetuation of it, on the other hand, is the theme of the other features. These are the wide cultural support for aggression and tendency to employ aggressive solutions, the glorification of fighters, observance of violent sports and past times, and the presence of capital and corporal punishment. Militaristic readiness and frequent participation in wars are also a factor. Dr. Fox wrote that “societies that are frequently at war have consistently higher rates of interpersonal violence as well.”

The last two features are the “belief in malevolent magic” and the “cospicuose inequality in wealth.

Consequently, Dr. Fox argues, that there should be conscious efforts among countries and societies to address a “culture of violence.” She further suggests for the “the male propensity for aggression” to be transmitted towards changing beliefs on alcohol and the “social responses to violence and aggression.”

In conclusion, Dr. Fox writes that there should be closer observance and deeper study on the meanings that different culture and societies attach to drinking and violence. This, she added, should be done “without assuming that either one causes the other.

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