If some countries suffer more from unruly behaviour after drinks, blame it on strict etiquette and social rules, says a report released today by International Center for Alcohol Policies (ICAP). Britain seems to be one such.
The report, "Alcohol and Violence: Exploring Patterns and Responses," lists 11 cultural features that may predict levels of violence such as homicide and spousal abuse.
It examines the association between alcohol and violence through the disciplines of anthropology, clinical psychology, human rights law, gender, and public health.
"We need to look more closely at the meaning attached to both drinking and violence in different cultures, without assuming that the one causes the other," writes Anne Fox, a contributor to the report and founding director of Galahad SMS Ltd. in England.
Dr. Fox writes that the presence of certain cultural features can largely predict levels of homicide, spousal abuse and other forms of violence. Violence-reinforcing cultures tend to share the following features:
Cultural support (in media, norms, icons, myths, and so on) for aggression and aggressive solutions;
Militaristic readiness and participation in wars—societies that are frequently at war have consistently higher rates of interpersonal violence as well;
Glorification of fighters;
Corporal and capital punishment;
Socialization of male children toward aggression;
Belief in malevolent magic;
Conspicuous inequality in wealth;
A higher than normal proportion of young males in the society;
Strong codes of male honor—in general, societies and subgroups that actively subscribe to strong codes of honor tend to have higher rates of homicide;
A culture of male domination.
In her paper, "Sociocultural Factors that Foster or Inhibit Alcohol-related Violence," Dr. Fox argues that efforts to counteract a "culture of violence" and "the male propensity for aggression" should be channeled toward altering "beliefs about alcohol" and "social responses to violence and aggression."
The report includes other papers including "The Role of Drinking Patterns and Acute Intoxication in Violent Interpersonal Behaviors" which looks at patterns of violence at the individual level. The paper "Working with Culture to Prevent Violence and Reckless Drinking" studies alcohol and violence from a gender perspective and identifies strategies used to respond to analogous social problems. "Practical Responses: Communications Guidelines for First Responders in Cases of Alcohol-related Violence" presents international guidelines for enhanced communication among first responders (police, emergency room staff, social workers) to alcohol-related violence, particularly between the health and law enforcement sectors.
Alcohol and Violence: Exploring Patterns and Responses was commissioned by the International Center for Alcohol Policies. ICAP is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to promote the understanding of the role of alcohol in society through dialogue and partnerships involving the beverage alcohol industry, the public health community, and others interested in alcohol policy, and to help reduce the abuse of alcohol worldwide.
ICAP has been engaged in the relationship between alcohol and violence since 1998, including a literature review and a report on violence in licensed premises. The organization has engaged in discussions with a variety of international bodies, including the World Bank, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the International Center for the Prevention of Crime, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women. In 2005, the World Bank hosted a meeting organized by ICAP and co-chaired by UNIFEM to discuss how best to move forward on the issue through some form of public-private cooperation. This report is a result of ongoing international collaboration to contribute to greater international understanding on the intersection between alcohol and violence.