Meaning Of Alcohol In Five Different Societies: Native Americans, Maori, Chinese, French And Russian

3356 words - 14 pages

Meaning of alcohol in five different societies: Native Americans, Maori, Chinese, French and Russian
This essay was conducted in order to look over whether the meaning of ‘alcohol’ differs across various cultures. The essay will compare how tribal people conceptualise the definition of this substance and how it is explained by contemporary societies in developing and developed countries, and also in the post-Soviet country. Contemporary or postmodern period is known as the latter 20th and the 21st century (Johnson, 2001). This paper will provide examples of indigenous societies from North America and New Zealand, and also societies from China, France and Russia. The essay will briefly ...view middle of the document...

The term alcohol originally refers to organic compound ‘ethanol’, the prevailing of it can be found in the alcoholic beverages. Despite, that the substance is usually examined for medical and scientific purposes, the issue on alcoholic liquids created a significant stimulus for sociological research. The historical time of Indians from North America was chosen to begin to describe complexity of alcohol meaning in sociological significance. Alcohol was a unique item in the relationships between Native North Americans and colonists in the late 16th (Carpenter, 1981). Europeans brought alcoholic liquids as presents that were main satisfactory during festive parties (Brady, 2000:440). In time, Europeans started to trade different commodities such as food, tobacco, clothing, alcohol and others to North America. Used as method of domination, traders exploited indigenous people by exchanging these goods for fur (McCormic, 2000:25). The alcohol was the most profitable for Europeans. Though, liquor or rum, as opposed to metal weapons, tools or cookware, did not provide utilitarian advantage to Indians. They began to incorporate alcohol into their society because there was a thought that alcohol could bring them to the condition of ‘getting beyond the self’, meaning it allowed them to connect with spirits (Carpenter, 1981). Native religious practice placed a great emphasis on beliefs in spirituality. Alcohol use could lead Natives Americans to a state close to alcoholic intoxication or drunkenness, which, in the opinion of Indian nations, could endow them by courage and bravery (Carpenter, 1981). This sense of invulnerability seemed to be a very attractive thing to them. Carpenter (1981) wrote that “For the Iroquois nation, intoxication originally meant not flight but search; not escape, but fulfillment; not loss of self, but discovery of self. To them it was a positive spiritual experience”. Iroquoian tribes were one of the most powerful leagues in North America (ibid).

Indians’ society lacked any moral rules about quantities of alcohol consumption, because it was totally new for them (Carpenter, 1981). At the beginning of 21st century for many remained indigenous people in North America consumption of alcohol was their attempt to struggle with the state of hopelessness and sicknesses that appeared due to the devastation of traditional cultural values (McCormic, 2000:27). Devastation is a strategy utilised by churches and formed government of Canada in attempt to assimilate Indians into Euro-Western culture (ibid). Alcohol is seen as one of the ways to replace anxious feeling; it became an alternative for happiness (McCormic, 2000:28). The society began to develop other strategies to deal with the pain of cultural dislocation and the resultant problem of alcohol abuse, therefore, alcoholism rate decreased from 95% to 5% over some time (McCormic, 2000:29). The high rate of substance dependence is seen among some reserved tribes today in Canada...

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