The visible imbiber: a critical review of the Irish and alcoholism
Buckman, Joan L.
Drake, Susan M.
Noonan, Elinor L.
Ryack, Audrey M.
MetadataShow full item record
This study addresses itself to the question, "Is there a high prevalence of alcoholism among the Irish?" Theoretical and empirical evidence concerning this problem statement is reviewed. It was the hope of the researchers to conduct their own empirical research, but this project proved impossible. In reviewing the literature, it became apparent that a work was needed in the field to determine which hypotheses seemed to be substantiated and which did not, as well as to eliminate myths. The researchers found that in order to scrutinize the material adequately, much secondary data had to be examined. Knowing the value of a systems approach, we chose to use this in our analysis. Therefore, alcoholism among the Irish was examined from legal, ethnic, psychological, sociological, and literary stand points both in our theoretical evaluation (chapter one) and in our empirical reviews (chapter four). Chapters four and five comprise the main body of this work. They include a critical review of twenty empirical studies which examine alcoholism among the Irish. These studies are reviewed and analyzed for their contributions to the field. The study shows that, al though some worthwhile research has been done, it has been so fragmented that it has yielded no consistent evidence that the Irish have a prevalence rate of alcoholism higher than other ethnic groups. Because of the ambiguity and inconsistencies among definitions of alcoholism, as well as the difficulty of testing such a concept, it was found that many studies were poorly designed and that concepts were not clearly defined. Measures of testing alcoholism also varied markedly, causing further fragmentation of results and an inability to use studies comparatively. Chapter five identifies those areas in which research needs to be expanded and improved. This paper recognizes the need for social work practitioners to be aware of theoretical and empirical research in this area in order to gain a broad base on which to build their knowledge. This paper attempts to consolidate and to interpret the vast amount of literature so that those in the helping professions can benefit from the many hours of compilation and research necessary to complete a volume such as this.
RightsThis work is being made available in OpenBU by permission of its author, and is available for research purposes only. All rights are reserved to the author.