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How to Be a Good Alcoholic

Symbolic Interaction

Published online on


Alcoholism is not one singular thing. It takes many forms, some more dignified and less destructive than others. This article explores how people drinking in the early hours of the day in bars present themselves and their relationship with alcohol and alcoholism. By means of ethnographic data, I analyze their strategies in dealing with the deviant use of alcohol. I find that the early morning drinkers use distinctions along three dimensions: managing drunkenness, taking breaks from drinking, and claiming certain motives for drinking. These distinctions are used in order to position oneself on a normative scale of different types of alcoholics.