Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Michael Payne

Second Advisor

Dr. Thomas VanValey

Third Advisor

Dr. Stanley S. Robin

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Morton Wagenfeld


There is no widely accepted comprehensive sociological theory of the etiology of alcohol use or misuse. More generally, there are frames of reference in which are found statements about the nature of the relationship between societies or groups of people and specific drinking behaviors. This study will present a theoretical model which is derived from available descriptive literature and empirical research.

The review of pertinent literature reveals two general social factors that seem to be associated with drinking patterns. First, members of a society are socialized from an early age to drinking norms and behavior. In a simple society socialization alone could account for adult drinking behavior. The second factor is concerned with the more immediate social situation, such as social status and occupation, which may have the effect of supporting or changing behavior learned at an earlier age. The extent to which these factors are recognized and understood may account for the variation in drinking patterns found in a complex society such as the United States.

Persons who have both early socialization and later life experiences that are consistent will have the highest probability of exhibiting a drinking behavior consistent with early learning experiences. Thus abstaining groups that are well integrated into abstaining groups are most likely to continue to abstain. Those people who do not have a continuous influence of the same definition of appropriate behavior will have a higher probability of behavior that is inconsistent with early socialization. This may be modified somewhat by societal norms which support light to moderate drinking and societal reaction to heavy drinking and its consequences.

Data gathered for the state of Michigan was utilized to test the model. Two basic concepts, socialization and social integration, were used to predict the level of drinking by the respondents. Hypotheses were tested using each of the independent variables separately and then in combination. It was expected that socialization patterns would predict the level of drinking for many, and in those cases where socialization did not predict social integration or community ties would be a more important predictor variable. The sample was divided by sex to test the hypotheses. Also a subsample of blacks was used to test the hypotheses.

The results of the analysis were mixed with some hypotheses being supported while others were not. The female subsample appeared to best approximate the model that social integration would better predict level of drinking when socialization did not predict. However, analysis utilizing both independent variables simultaneously explained very little variance for the female subsample. The greatest amount of total variance was explained in the black male subsample.

The model and methods of testing were reexamined. The finding seemed to suggest that an expanded conception of social integration and a more complex conception of socialization should be utilized in future studies. That is, social integration may be different for specific groups of people, for example, greater for females and whites. Also, the model tested did not take into account socialization to gender and racial roles which may influence other behavior irrespective of specific socialization as in the case of drinking behavior.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Sociology Commons