Course Description:

This course is designed to provide students with an understand of biopsychosocial influences on “alcohol problems” from several perspectives. Because this is a sociology class, we will stay grounded in sociology even though at times we will discuss medical, law enforcement, psychological, and other perspectives. However, we will spend some time thinking as sociologists who work in multidisciplinary fields. First, we will use an addictions science perspective to examine the physiological, psychological, and social functions of alcohol. We will seek to understand the experiences of individuals who could be said to have "alcohol problems" and how culture and social structures influence their experiences. Then, we will use a public health lens to examine effects of alcohol on population health in the US and around the world. We will also discuss the alcohol from a critical social problems perspective, including some social history of alcohol use and policy using the US as an example (though discussants are welcome to bring in additional examples to contrast the US case). With this perspective, we will examine several current social problems related to alcohol, how these have been defined, and in what ways social control of the problems is attempted—including law enforcement, laws and policies, and education. We will also examine how alcohol use is portrayed. Most of this course will be focused on the US and US examples, but students who want to examine alcohol problems in other contexts will be able to do that in most assignments.