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Cross cultural study of drinking patterns in three ethnic groups : Coast Salish Indians of the Mission Researve, immigrant Italians and Anglo-Saxons of East Vancouver Buckley, Patricia Lorraine

Abstract

Amongst the important social problems today in both rural and urban areas, is the condition of inebriety. Although considerable research has been conducted on the condition of alcoholism, little has been undertaken on the condition of inebriety. It is an observable fact that, while members of some ethnic groups who drink substantially and frequently become inebriated, members of other ethnic groups who also partake of alcoholic beverages in substantial quantities do not experience inebriety. This suggests that the culture of the ethnic group determines the group's drinking patterns to a large measure, and that drinking patterns may be such that they lead participants to the condition of inebriety. In this thesis, I have attempted to examine drinking patterns of three ethnic groups in relation to several aspects of their cultural background. I devised and tested five hypotheses which are relevant to attitudes towards drinking, reasons for drinking, settings and times of the day in which drinking occurs. I have attempted also to examine Indian and Italian drinking patterns to determine to what extent each group matches or differs from Anglo-Saxon drinking patterns. The study was made on a comparative basis, and field work was conducted amongst three ethnic groups in the Greater Vancouver area during the summer, fall and winter, 1967-1968. The three groups are the Coast Salish Indians of the Mission Reserve, Immigrant Italians and Anglo-Saxons of East Vancouver. Data on the problem briefly outlined above, were sought through interviews with thirty representatives of each group, as well as by observations of members of the ethnic groups in their social drinking establishments. Two key informants in each ethnic group, as well as several pertinent documentary sources, were also consulted. The available data collected in the study suggested that the proposed hypotheses were valid. There appears to be a close relationship between the cultural background of an ethnic group and its drinking patterns. However, it needs to be stated that there were many inadequacies and limitations in the reference literature used, basic premises and hypotheses proposed, and research techniques employed. Data also suggested that there was a high degree of similarity between Anglo-Saxon and Indian drinking patterns and a high degree of difference between Anglo-Saxon and Italian drinking patterns. Additional and enlightening information which the data suggested was that many of the cultural aspects of the Indian group, particularly, are in a marked stage of transition.

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