A cross-cultural study of drunkenness

Harvard College Cambridge Published In Pages: 101
By Davis, William N.


This study examines the influence of the "child-adult" conflict on the frequency of drunkenness in a culture. In particular, the author examines the socio-psychological factors that can induce a child-adult conflict, claiming that this conflict may be more common when mothers are the primary dispensers of rewards.


Sample Used Coded Data Comment
OtherOther Researchers
Ethnographic Reports

Hypotheses (18)

". . . it was predicted that societal drunkenness would be positively related to n Sentience [need for sentient experiences], as expressed in folktales" (79)Not Supported
". . . an important mother, a good deal of indulgence, and a stress upon achievement or self-reliance tended to go with cultural practices that were related to a high frequency of drunkenness" (72)Supported
"The presence of the [male initiation] rites was strongly related to low drunkenness while their absence tended to go with high drunkenness" (57)Supported
"Sleeping arrangements were not significantly related to drunkenness. But mother-child households . . . tended to go with a low frequency of drunkenness" (55)Supported
"[T]he relative importance of boys' [puberty] rites tended to go more often with low drunkenness while girls' rites usually went with high drunkenness" (60)Supported
"In short, these results indicate that relatively speaking, bilateral and cognatic kin groups rely more heavily upon an economy that presumably forces the father to leave his home for long periods of time . . . thus encouraging them [children] to adopt feminine modes of behavior" (39)Supported
"Family organization . . . was not significantly related to 'frequency of drunkenness' " (35)Supported
"As predicted, simple local communities and simple states (i.e. a low level of political complexity) tended to be associated with a high frequency of drunkenness while complex communities and complex states were related to a lower frequency of drunkenness" (36)Supported
"Bilocal, neolocal and, possibly, matrilocal residence patterns should be associated with a high level of drunkenness while patrilocal societies should be associated with a low level of drunkenness" (23)Partially supported
"As predicted, bilateral groups were strongly associated with a high frequency of drunkenness. Non-bilateral groups, of course, tended to be low drinkers" (35)Supported
"As shown, presence of adolescent segregation tended to go with a low frequency of drunkenness" (58)Supported
An analysis of interrelated social structure variables revealed that bilateral kinship is relatively the most important predictor of drunkenness (37, 38)Supported
"Matrilineal kin groups were inconsistent. But, cognatic groups tended toward high drunkenness while patrilineal groups were definitely associated with low drunkenness" (35)Partially supported
"In short, those kin groups that are generally high in drunkenness are also prone to gratify strongly the needs of their young children" (47)Supported
"Achievement is stressed in the same kin groups [bilateral and cognatic] that tend to gratify strongly needs for dependency, passivity, and indulgence" (49)Supported
"Bilateral and cognatic kin . . . are highly indulgent to young children, reject an adult's dependency needs, and furthermore greatly emphasize adult achievement. These conditions seem ideal for the development of a 'child-adult' conflict, and the latter should be reflected, as indeed it is, in a high frequency of drunkenness" (50-51)Supported
". . . bride price tended to go with low drunkenness, and bride service was more often associated with high drunkenness" (61)Supported
"The presence of this custom [couvade] was frequently associated with high drunkenness" (64)Supported

Documents and Hypotheses Filed By:mas Amelia Piazza