The problem of alcoholism is viewed as a major social problem, one that has an impact not only on the individual and not only on his or her family but on society as a whole. Society pays a price for a high incidence of alcoholism in the form of work days missed, health issues, medical expenses, devastation wrought by drunk drivers, and so on. Alcoholism has been examined from a number of different perspectives in an attempt to explain its etiology or its consequences. The prevailing perspective is the medical model, which holds that alcoholism is a disease, which also means that it can be treated through medical means. This approach has its limitations, however, and a viable alternative perspective that is based on a different etiology and a different methodology for addressing the issue is the sociological perspective. Theorists using this perspective approach alcoholism in terms of its social aspects, considering what types of society produce an alcoholic problem, whether there is an economic aspect to alcoholism, the relationship between dependency and the abuse of alcohol, and various societal dynamics contributing to the alcohol problem. The issues to be addressed include:
-what types of society produce an alcohol problem.
-whether there is an economic aspect to alcoholism.
-the relationship between dependence and the abuse of alcohol.
-various societal factors contributing to the problem.
Different rationales have been offered for alcoholism in primitive societies as opposed to complex societies. The issue has been examined empirically in a few studies, and sociological theories have been developed to explain the relationship between alcoholism and various social factors including urbanization, economic development, social movements, class distinctions and tensions, ethnic background, and so on. An important class of sociological theories of alcoholism refers specifically to
The medical model or dis...