The Stigma of Sobriety and How Some “Stay Dry” on a “Wet” Campus

All alcoholics and their co-dependents have experienced stigma. Indeed one of the reasons for not attending Alcoholics anonymous or Al-anon is the fear of social stigma. The attached article explains how and why stigma is cast on non drinkers.

Social scientists have conducted numerous studies on binge drinking behavior. They have not, however, conducted any systematic studies of nondrinkers. Our study focuses on the everyday experiences of nondrinking who stay “dry” while living on “wet” campuses. We use the symbolic interactionist notions of identity work and deviance to show how nondrinkers employ a variety of stigma management strategies to avoid being labeled deviant. These strategies include the;

  • procurement of drinking props,
  • fictional storytelling,
  • alteration of personal appearance,
  • concealment,
  • disclosure, and
  • capitulation.

We extend the sociological study of identity work and deviance by documenting how nondrinkers experience and manage stigma and negotiate positive social and personal identities. Moreover, we apply the concepts of “negative deviants,” “rate busters,” and “positive deviants” to delineate how nondrinkers are viewed by different audiences on a “wet” campus.

Nancy J. Herman-Kinney, David A. Kinney. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, February 2013 vol. 42 no. 1 64-103

Download the original article below > 

Non drinkers labelled deviant.pdfNon drinkers labelled deviant.pdf

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