The Role of Alcohol in Non-Indigenous Australian Culture: an Ethnographic Study

Alcohol has been suggested to play a major role in Australian lifestyles. This paper outlines the relevant literature and describes an ethnographic study of alcohol consumption in non-indigenous Australian culture. The objective of the study was to explore the relationship that Australians have with alcohol, comparing the literature on Australian alcohol consumption with the data obtained from a sample comprised of a wide range of non-indigenous members of the Australian culture. The results describe the central role of alcohol in socialising activities, and in providing a source of differentiation between males and females in Australian culture.



Citation:

Simone Pettigrew (2001) ,"The Role of Alcohol in Non-Indigenous Australian Culture: an Ethnographic Study", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4, eds. Paula M. Tidwell and Thomas E. Muller, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: .

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4, 2001

THE ROLE OF ALCOHOL IN NON-INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIAN CULTURE: AN ETHNOGRAPHIC STUDY

Simone Pettigrew

Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia

 

ABSTRACT -

Alcohol has been suggested to play a major role in Australian lifestyles. This paper outlines the relevant literature and describes an ethnographic study of alcohol consumption in non-indigenous Australian culture. The objective of the study was to explore the relationship that Australians have with alcohol, comparing the literature on Australian alcohol consumption with the data obtained from a sample comprised of a wide range of non-indigenous members of the Australian culture. The results describe the central role of alcohol in socialising activities, and in providing a source of differentiation between males and females in Australian culture.

 

INTRODUCTION

Alcohol has been suggested to play a major role in Australian lifestyles (Fiske, Hodge, and Turner 1987). The perceived connection between Australians and alcohol consumption is not misplaced, as Australians are the twentieth largest per capita consumers of alcohol in the world, particularly in the consumption of beer where they rank ninth on a per capita basis (Productschap Voor Gedistilleerde Dranken 1997). This paper describes an ethnographic study of alcohol consumption in non-indigenous Australian culture. The objective of the study was to explore the relationship that Australians have with alcohol, comparing the literature on Australian alcohol consumption with the data obtained from a sample comprised of a wide range of non-indigenous members of the Australian culture.

A literature review of alcohol consumption in Australian culture is outlined below, followed by a description of the qualitative methods employed in this study. An interpretation of the role of alcohol in Australian culture is then offered, an interpretation that is acknowledged to be subjective and unavoidably influenced by the personal characteristics of the researcher.

A Brief History of Alcohol Consumption

Barr (1995) observes that humans have been interested in alcohol for 10,000 years, using it extensively in facilitating social interaction and performing rituals. He traces heavy alcohol consumption to the development of a cash society characterised by a disassociation between home and work. This produced a situation where workers were able to go to alehouses on the way home from work, with workers in this sense being males (see also Heath 1987). Those who worked outside the home found themselves in a position where they could drink far greater quantities than would have been considered appropriate in the home. Even in present times, alcohol consumption is considered to be symbolic of male labour (Douglas 1987).

Alcohol consumption has been an important part of the Australian lifestyle from the time of settlement. The convicts drank for amusement and rebellion, taking pleasure in an activity that could temporarily transport them from their surroundings (King 1978). By the early 1880s there was one pub for around every 88 people living in Sydney, and this number did not include the numerous alcohol shops that were not attached to public houses (Conway 1985). At this time there were also around 190 breweries, although this number had more than halved soon after Federation in 1901 (Harvey 1994). The early years of Australian settlement saw a very high male to female arrival rate (Morse and Marks 1985), and until 1960 female immigrants were still in the minority (Graetz and McAllister 1988). This male-dominated society was very conducive to heavy drinking, along with a limited range of other pastimes such as sporting activities (Horne 1988).

Fiske et al. (1987) attribute some of the Australian male compulsion to drink heavily to the six o’clock swill. The swill is the name that was given to the intense drinking session that used to occur between 5pm and 6pm on weekdays. This situation arose from the laws that were introduced during the First World War that required all pubs to close by 6pm. Part of the purpose of these laws was to ensure that men spent their evenings at home with their families rather than at the local drinking venue. These laws were not repealed until the mid-1950s or later, depending on the Australian state in which the drinker lived. As the working day typically ceased at 5pm, a 6pm closing time meant that drinkers had to maximise consumption in a one-hour period. The result was bingeing, often resulting in urinating and vomiting in the public bar. It is this state of affairs that led to the adoption of the tile- and lino-covered surfaces that can still be found in many pub! s today (Fiske et al. 1987).

Alcohol Consumption Today

Alcohol consumption has extensive social significance across human cultures, with the social context recognised as especially important to the consumption process (Douglas 1987). In particular, the consumption of alcohol has an important social function as a mechanism for determining and communicating group membership or exclusion (Douglas 1987). Alcohol consumption has been found to have a distinct relationship with variables such as gender, age, and social class (Levy 1986), thus enabling its use as a stereotyping tool (Englis and Solomon 1995).

Alcohol can have emotional significance for drinkers, involving both positive and negative outcomes. On the positive side, the consumption of alcohol is recognised to reduce anxiety and stress during intoxication (Heath 1987) and to facilitate social interaction (Plant, Bagnall, and Foster 1990; Donovan Research 1989). The negative consequences of alcohol consumption can include hangovers, violence (including suicide and homicide), injuries from motor vehicle accidents, vandalism, exposure to heavier drugs, long-term health problems, foetal abnormalities, and family disintegration (Garretson and Burton 1998; Pavis, Cunningham-Burley, and Amos 1997; Donovan Research 1994). Despite the importance of alcohol consumption in many cultures, Heath (1987) notes that there are few formal studies of the way in which the young are enculturated into the drinking process.

In the 1995 Australian National Health Survey (Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS 1995], n = approximately 54,000), the average daily quantity of absolute alcohol consumed across all types of alcoholic beverages among those who reported consuming alcohol in the previous week was 47.3mls per person. When broken down by gender, the consumption rates were 57.6 mls per day for males and 32.8 mls per day for females. Given that medical researchers warn that 46.4 mls and 26.4 mls are the maximum recommended daily doses of alcohol for males and females respectively (Holman, English, and Winter 1996), these average consumption rates provide cause for concern. The picture becomes much more extreme when the analysis is limited to those consuming full-strength beer, the most popular form of alcohol in Australia (ABS 1995). The average daily consumption of absolute alcohol in the form of full-strength beer per drinker at the time of the 1995 survey was 74.7 mls, rep! resenting 79.3 mls per average male drinker and 54 mls per average female drinker. Low alcohol and extra light beer accounted for 37.4 mls and 21.2 mls of absolute alcohol per drinker. Spirits had an average daily alcohol consumption of 54.1mls, while wine consumption was lower at 37.9mls of alcohol per person. These figures indicate that beer drinkers are heavier drinkers in terms of volume than those who predominantly consume other forms of alcohol. As beer has a lower percentage of alcohol than most wines and spirits, in order to accumulate large amounts of absolute alcohol, drinkers have to consume much larger quantities of beer than other forms of alcohol.

Although Australians on average are heavy consumers of alcohol, many individuals do not fit this description (Horne 1988). For example, the 1989/90 National Health Survey (ABS 1990, n=16,999) found that 13% of adult females and 4.8% of adult males had never consumed alcohol. The 1995 National Health Survey found that 55% of the adult population sampled had consumed alcohol in the previous week to the survey, indicating that almost half the adult population does not drink alcohol on a regular basis. Such statistics suggest that while per capita consumption levels are quite high, heavy drinking is found among certain sections of the population, rather than being evenly distributed.

Alcohol Consumption Patterns

Rather than consumption to enhance meals, as is found in the European model of alcohol consumption, Australians actually want to achieve a state of drunkenness, however mild (Donovan Research 1988). Douglas (1987) describes drunkenness as culturally prescribed and therefore expressive of the culture in which it occurs. Australians associate drunkenness with egalitarianism, as social distinctions become less noticeable and meaningful among the intoxicated (Fiske et al. 1987). However, not all share an appreciation for the state of drunkenness. King paints a bleak picture of beer consumption in Australia, viewing inebriation as a ritual that is enacted far too regularly in Australian culture. He is scathing of the perceived excesses of Australian males (1978, pp. 173-175):

For a significant number of Australian males to have a crashing hangover is to be respected, to be able to drink vast quantities well beyond the call of thirst is commendable, to ‘chunder’ this unnecessary liquid is hilarious, and to collapse paralytic on the floor from intoxication is magnificent. If conditions allow a fight then the ultimate plane has been reached.

King (1978) nominates anxiety as a primary cause of excessive alcohol consumption, and Mackay (1993) discusses drinking as a form of escapism from the stresses of life.

A hangover is considered something to be proud of in Australian culture, as it brings sympathy from others and reassures the drinker that a good time has been had (Mackay 1989). King (1978) notes the contradictions in Australian attitudes towards alcohol. Heavy drinking is encouraged in the name of sociability, but those who become alcoholics are considered socially unacceptable. The drinker must therefore walk the fine line between achieving the desired level of drunkenness at the required frequency, without falling victim to addiction.

Younger drinkers are the heaviest drinkers of alcohol in Australia. Drinkers in the 18 to 24 age bracket have the highest per capita consumption rates for all major types of alcohol, with the exception of the extra light beer category which is dominated by the 24-34 age group (ABS 1995). Very young drinkers who face legal or financial impediments to pub patronage often choose to drink heavily at home before going out for the evening (Health Department of Western Australia 1997). They are also more likely to engage in binge drinking (Donovan Research 1989), although females are more likely than males to adopt a bingeing pattern in their drinking (Batey 1996; Health Department of Western Australia 1997). As a result, those in the 18-24 years bracket are significantly more likely to drink to damaging levels, with over 17% consuming quantities that place them in the medium to high risk categories (ABS1995). As drinkers get older they are less likely to drink t! o dangerous levels, with the proportion of those drinking to medium and high risk levels decreasing progressively with age from 17% of those aged 18-24 down to 8% of those aged 75 years and over (ABS 1995).

Forms of Alcohol

As noted above, beer is the most popular form of alcohol in Australia (ABS 1995). Beer as a form of alcohol has been in use for around 7,000 years, originating in the Middle East (Harvey 1994). One of the most important symbolic distinctions communicated by beer in Western societies is gender, as there exists a strong association between beer and masculinity (Gough and Edwards 1998). Beer has long had particular relevance for the working man in societies with British origins (Barr 1995), and this is especially the case in Australia where the population was originally based on the lower classes of British nations (Mackay 1989; Morse and Marks 1985).

The vast majority of beer consumed in Australia continues to be full-strength beer, with the average Australian drinking 70.8 litres of full-strength beer per year (ABS 1997). The preference for full-strength beer relative to other types of beer exists across males and females of all age groups (ABS 1995). Despite the dominance of full-strength beer, the demand for low alcohol beer has increased since the advent of random breath testing in Australia (Skurray 1993), a development that has provided a legitimate justification for the consumption of reduced-alcohol beers (Donovan Research 1988). The move by some to lower-alcohol beer is in line with a general trend towards the encouragement of moderation in alcohol consumption by Australian governments (Harvey 1984). In 1996/97, Australians consumed an average of 24 litres per capita of low alcohol beer, up from 22 litres per capita in 1991/92 (ABS 1997).

The consumption of beer can be an effective way of achieving social approval (Donovan Research 1988, 1989), filling the function of a "social adhesive" (Mackay 1989, p. 3). A similar function of beer consumption is its role as a "social lubricant" (Mackay 1989, p. 3), a function that is also evident in the use of alcohol in other cultures (see Barr 1995). Beer consumption assists the socially inept Australian male in his interactions with others, as "after a few quickies anyone can relate on the level of the beery bar" King 1978, p. 175). Beer consumption is often the reason for social gatherings, with Australians sensing a natural relationship between drinking beer and enjoyment (Donovan 1989; Mackay 1989). While the discussion of beer consumption in the literature is usually confined to males, it is also acknowledged that it can provide females with a means of communicating their desire to be considered "one of the boys" (Mackay 1989, p. 3).

Wine has been increasing in popularity among Australian drinkers. Wine consumption has increased threefold since the 1940s, rising from 5.9 litres per capita in the late 1940s to just under 19 litres per capita in 1996/97 (ABS 1997). Fiske et al. (1987, p.16) attribute this growth in wine consumption to the increasing "civilisation" of alcohol consumption in Australia, making in the process an interesting comment on the perceived social standing of beer relative to wine. By comparison, total beer consumption in Australia, as in most Western nations, is gradually declining (Fisher 1996; Prince 1996). Total beer consumption in Australia decreased each year between 1989/90 and 1996/97, ranging from 145.4 litres per capita at the beginning of the period to 94.7 litres per capita at the end of the period (ABS 1992, 1997). This latter amount is a lower figure than the 100 litres per capita that was consumed in 1958/59 (ABS 1997). Fisher (1996) attributes this de! cline to changing demographics, altering lifestyles, and government intervention in the form of taxes and drink-driving restrictions.

Gender Issues in Alcohol Consumption

The relative consumption levels between the sexes illustrate that alcohol plays a much more prominent role in the lives of Australian men than Australian women. Fewer females are likely to consume alcohol to levels that are injurious to health (3% of female drinkers versus 8% of male drinkers) (ABS 1995). Those females who do are most likely to belong to the 18-24 age group and to be employed in male-dominated occupations, such as labourers and plant operators (ABS 1990).

As in other cultures, beer in Australian culture is strongly associated with masculinity (Mackay 1989; Horne 1988). Beer consumption constitutes an on-going rite of passage that enables Australian males to repeatedly demonstrate their manhood through heavy beer consumption in order to fend off accusations of being a bore (Mackay 1989), or even a "bloody poofta" (King 1978, p. 175). However, the tendency to consume beer rather than other forms of alcohol with higher alcohol contents suggests that intoxication is not the primary objective (Fiske et al. 1987). This leads to the interpretation that the masculine symbolism of beer incorporates more than just its ability to induce intoxication - it is considered masculine in itself, relative to other forms of alcohol.

The incidence of beer consumption among Australian females is relatively low at 14.3% (ABS 1990). The 18-24 age group has the highest incidence rate at 19.4% (ABS 1990), and university students have been found to be among the heavier female consumers of beer (Donovan Research 1995). Of those females who do drink beer, full-strength is the most popular variety (ABS 1995). The preferred alcoholic beverage in all adult female age categories except the youngest is wine, with an average incidence rate across all age groups of 30.5% (ABS 1990). Spirits are the next most popular alcoholic beverage for these age groups (18.2%). The order is reversed for female drinkers between the ages of 18 and 24, who firstly prefer spirits (32.8%), followed by wine (25.9%) (ABS 1990). Male drinkers, by comparison, exhibit a much stronger preference for beer, with 65% of adult males drinking beer and 22% drinking wine in the week prior to the 1989/90 National Health Survey (ABS ! 1990).

The masculine association with beer consumption is gradually fading in intensity. Part of the reason for this is that the definition of what it is to be an Australian male and female is in a phase of transformation (Mackay 1993, 1997; Conway 1985). In their study of Australian pubs, Fiske et al. (1987) found that more females are now evident at drinking venues, and they attribute this to the new code of equality emerging in the workplace that is being progressively transferred to the pub. However, they also note that the sexism that remains in many workplaces is still apparent in pubs, slowing the growth in female patronage. Despite this, beer consumption as a male-dominated activity actually has benefits to some females. According to Mackay (1989), beer consumption is one way in which females can enter male society and communicate their desire to be treated as equals. It effectively gives them "a passport into the world of men" (Mackay 1989, p. 9), signal! ling their new-found liberation.

 

METHODOLOGY

Despite being suggested more than 30 years ago as a viable consumer research method, ethnography has only recently become popular in consumer behaviour (Hill 1991, 1992). Originating in anthropology where it was primarily used to study small indigenous groups (Marcus 1986; Bagramov 1977), ethnography is now advocated as an effective research tool to be used in the marketing discipline, and in consumer behaviour in particular (Cova 1996; Otnes 1996). Arnould and Wallendorf (1994) have specifically discussed the benefits of ethnography for market-related research, suggesting that product ethnographies performed for their own sake rather than in the interests of marketers have the potential to illuminate the meanings of products in consumers’ lives.

Participant observations, non-participant observations, and interviews were employed in this study to gather data relating to alcohol consumption. The objective was to generate a thick description of the ways in which alcohol is consumed in Australian culture. Over the course of three years, 115 people were interviewed and observed in over 23 pubs and clubs in three Australian states (Western Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria). These interviews comprised the ethnographic component of the research, and were most critical to the emerging interpretation. Other interviews were also conducted to obtain information pertaining to Australian culture in general. These interviews provided background information to enhance the researcher’s understanding of Australian culture as perceived by its members. These interviews were conducted in schools and retirement villages, as these locations provided a degree of access to informants that was not available in less! structured environments. Approximately 300 children and seniors were interviewed in these contexts. This number is large primarily due to the need to interview students in class contexts.

The ethnographic interviews and observations conducted in drinking venues provided direct insight into the cultural process of alcohol consumption, while the interviews in schools and retirement villages provided a more general understanding of Australian culture and the role of alcohol in this culture. The interviews with secondary school students were especially useful, as many were experimenting with alcohol. Due to their "amateur" status, these drinkers were more conscious of their decision-making processes relating to alcohol consumption, and the socialisation effects at work in their attitudes towards alcohol were more apparent.

Interview transcripts and observation notes were imported into NUD*IST (Non-numerical Unstructured Data Information Searching Indexing and Theorising [Qualitative Solutions and Research 1997]) for coding. In line with Levy’s (1981) discussions of consumer myths, the stories or explanations people provided about their consumption preferences and activities were analysed for indications of the role alcohol consumption plays in their lives. Of particular interest were the common elements in informants’ descriptions of how their alcohol consumption factors into their perceptions of being a member of the Australian culture. Also, the ways in which alcohol consumption parallels the society in which it occurs were closely examined. For example, the class, age, and gender differences apparent in the way in which alcohol is purchased and consumed were explored, and the emerging interpretations of these relationships were then communicated to informants to gauge the! ir relevance to those being studied (as per Barnes 1996).

 

RESULTS

Alcohol consumption is socially prescribed in Australian culture. From a young age Australians learn that different types of people should drink certain types of alcoholic beverages. The result is that the choice of alcohol to consume is pre-made for many. Social conditioning has ensured that only a relatively small number of alcoholic alternatives are considered, with the decision between these options largely pre-programmed according to gender and context, and to a lesser extent age and social class. The following quote reflects the extent to which this conditioning impacts upon expectations of appropriate alcohol consumption:

I have got a three-and-a-half year old daughter. You ask, "what do men drink Phoebe?" She goes, "beer". "What do women drink?" "Wine" (Adult male, NSW).

Informants were well aware that there are very specific symbolic meanings attached to different forms of alcohol. Wine is perceived as the form of alcohol most appropriate for females, and it is also considered appropriate for both males and females belonging to higher socio-economic groupings. Australians of all ages and backgrounds volunteered wine as a favoured beverage of Australian females. Where males were mentioned as wine drinkers, it was usually in conjunction with a reference to red wine and relative wealth. Red wine is perceived as more masculine than white wine, and therefore more appropriate for male consumption. It is also considered to be more expensive, and therefore more appropriate for males and females of the upper classes.

Just as there are appropriate alcoholic beverages for males and females, there are socially sanctioned alcoholic alternatives for certain situations. Mass conformity in alcohol consumption becomes apparent in the cultural "fact" that different social functions require the presence of different types of alcohol. Wine is the more formal beverage, particularly fitting for sit-down meals and special occasions. Beer is the every-day product, suitable for consumption where people congregate informally. Informants felt that the taste of beer makes it more appropriate for the types of foods consumed in each context. The anomaly in the argument that a beer tastes better with a steak at a barbecue and a glass of red wine goes better with a cut of red meat at a dinner party was far from obvious to informants. The social consumption requirements over-ride the taste of the beverage so completely that in the minds of consumers the association of certain types of alcohol! and certain social contexts is natural and unquestioned. The following informants explain how beer is most strongly associated with barbecues and parties, while wine is considered appropriate for more formal occasions:

Female: Drinking beer is more barbecues, not at a wedding or a function or something like a restaurant.
Male: It is posher to drink wine (Adults, male and female, WA).

Female 1: Beer goes more with a barbecue.
Female 2: I pretty much always drink beer, unless I am having a meal, then I will drink wine. If I have gone out for dinner with somebody, then I will drink wine.
Researcher: What times are ideal for drinking beer?
Female 2: Night time, maybe. Yes, after work. If I am going out with somebody for a meal I prefer to drink wine, but if I am just going out to socialise I will drink beer (Adult females, NSW).

Alcohol and socialising are implicitly conjoined in Australian culture. It is virtually unthinkable for drinkers that a social gathering could occur between friends without the presence of alcohol. Informants were unable to contemplate a social event that did not include the consumption of some form of alcohol. The relationship between alcohol and socialising is particularly strong where food is consumed, and hosts generally feel compelled to serve alcohol with a meal. As the informant below states, "it is very hard to get away from the alcohol side of it."

Researcher: Tell me about your normal drinking behaviour.
Female: Gosh, very social. We have lots of social events, so I guess they revolve around food and alcohol.
Researcher: In that order?
Female: Yes, I love to cook, so to me the food is more important. But it is very difficult to get away from the alcohol side of it.
Researcher: Would people think you were strange if you invited them over to dinner and then didn’t serve any alcohol?
Female: Yes, definitely. All our friends drink (Adult female, WA).

Given the socially accepted meanings of different alcoholic beverages, the individual’s control over choice becomes questionable. Certainly consumers may choose any alternative that is available, but they must then accept the social consequences of these choices. The result is that the vast majority of male drinkers conform to societal expectations, safe in the accepted symbolism of beer, and to a lesser extent spirits:

If you see a guy drinking champagne he will get ragged (taunted) (Adult male, WA).

Researcher: So do you know any males who don’t like beer?
Male: No, see well, we don’t knock around with that sort of company. There are people around, you get young males that don’t drink at all. Anybody we know will have a beer (Adult male, NSW).

Male: If I sit here and drink little glasses of wine, it all sounds pretty silly to me, quite honestly. Your mates would get stuck into you if you stand in a pub drinking wine. I would feel rather silly.
Researcher: Why do you think that is?
Male: I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. Australian make-up (Adult male, NSW).

Thus while a male can choose to drink champagne, or other forms of alcohol besides beer, he does so at the risk of persecution from others. Abstinence does not resolve the issue, as the decision to avoid beer consumption altogether is likely to result in stigma or alienation. Similar negative attributions accrue to females who fail to consume alcohol "appropriately". It became apparent when speaking to both younger and older Australians that females who drink beer are often perceived to be an "ugly" minority. Given this stereotyping, it is not surprising that females largely conform to the requirement to avoid beer. As most humans value social interaction (Turner 1987), the risk of alienation and ridicule is an effective motivating force. The symbolism attached to various alcoholic beverages can therefore be seen not just as an information bank for consumers to use at their discretion, but a powerful determinant of their behaviours.

Males interviewed in drinking contexts commonly stated that drinking was a daily occurrence, whereas females tended to describe a pattern of drinking that exhibits an emphasis on social occasions. Females are more likely to drink as a meal-accompaniment, particularly at social events, their consumption behaviour thus more closely resembling European drinking patterns. However, even at social events, the capacity of females to drink alcohol is constrained by their ascribed roles:

Researcher: So beer goes with barbecues?
Male 1: Yes.
Male 2: Oh yes, definitely.
Male 1: What is a barbie without a beer?
Researcher: What are the women drinking at barbecues?
Male 2: Some drink beer and some drink wine, some would drink soft drink. Depends on who is driving home.
Researcher: Is the female more likely to drive home, or is the male more likely to drive home?
Male 1: Oh no, the female.
Male 2: The female, usually.
Researcher: Why would that be?
Male 1: Oh, the blokes get together and they seem to get into the grog and have a good time (Adult males, NSW).

It is apparent that the wishes of females to consume alcohol are socially subordinate to those of the male. This is not, however, perceived as a hardship or sacrifice for females. They appear to understand and accept their role as the mandatory sober spouse who is required to ensure the safe return home of the inebriated partner. Males are perceived to be more in need of a physical release. Also, male-to-male relationships appear to be more dependent on alcohol, whereas females appear to be more capable of conducting relationships in a state of sobriety.

 

CONCLUSIONS

Due to the qualitative nature of this study, the results are exploratory and suggestive. They are, however, consistent with the major themes in the literature. Alcohol consumption does appear to play an important role in non-indigenous Australian culture. Through their choices of alcoholic beverage, Australians communicate aspects of themselves to others, particularly their gender. Through their choice of contexts in which to consume alcohol, Australians communicate their emphasis on social interaction and egalitarianism. Alcohol consumption facilitates the bonding process that is considered important in Australian culture. However, the extent to which a common passion for alcohol is assumed to exist among Australians is largely mythical. Heavy consumption is more typical among males than females, and among younger consumers rather than older consumers.

Social demarcations exist between different varieties of alcohol, with culturally-determined expectations concerning the appropriateness of certain types of alcohol for specific kinds of people providing a real barrier to free choice. This barrier remains largely invisible to consumers. Consuming alcohol is such a "natural" part of Australians’ social lives that most do not pay much conscious attention to their own drinking motivations. Instead, the need to drink alcohol to fit in is an accepted part of Australian society.

 

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Authors

Simone Pettigrew



Volume

AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4 | 2001



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