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The goal of this study was to describe how activists engaged in campaigns to change alcohol policies in inner city areas framed alcohol problems, and whether or not their frameworks reflected major models used in the field, such as the alcoholism as a disease model, an alcohol problems perspective, or a public health approach to alcohol problems. The findings showed that activists' models shared some aspects with dominant approaches which tend to focus on individuals and to a lesser extent on regulating alcohol marketing and sales. However, activists' models differed in significant ways by focusing on community level problems with alcohol; on problems with social norms regarding alcohol use; and on the relationship of alcohol use to illicit drugs.
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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2010, 7, 1226-1247; doi:10.3390/ijerph7031226
International Journal of
Environmental Research and
Public Health
ISSN 1660-4601
www.mdpi.com/journal/ijerph
Article
Community Mobilization and the Framing of Alcohol-Related
Problems
Denise Herd
School of Public Health, 50 University Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA;
E-Mail: tiara@berkeley.edu; Tel.: +1+510 642 4842; Fax: +1-510-643-8236
Received: 29 December 2009; in revised form: 5 March 2010 / Accepted: 12 March 2010 /
Published: 22 March 2010
Abstract: The goal of this study was to describe how activists engaged in campaigns to
change alcohol policies in inner city areas framed alcohol problems, and whether or not
their frameworks reflected major models used in the field, such as the alcoholism as a
disease model, an alcohol problems perspective, or a public health approach to alcohol
problems. The findings showed that activists’ models shared some aspects with dominant
approaches which tend to focus on individuals and to a lesser extent on regulating alcohol
marketing and sales. However, activists’ models differed in significant ways by focusing
on community level problems with alcohol; on problems with social norms regarding
alcohol use; and on the relationship of alcohol use to illicit drugs.
Keywords: alcohol policy; social movements; collective action frames; alcohol outlets;
urban populations
1. Introduction
Over the past several decades, various grassroots organizations in the United States have mobilized
to challenge alcohol policies in inner city neighborhoods. These groups have developed local and
statewide ordinances to limit and regulate alcohol outlets, organized networks to eliminate alcohol
billboard advertising, and launched protests against racial and ethnic targeting by alcohol and tobacco
companies [1-4]. However, few studies have focused on this social movement or have analyzed the
ways in which it has defined, or framed, alcohol issues to mobilize constituents. As a result, little is
OPEN ACCESS
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known about how activists in this movement conceptualize alcohol problems and whether the
constructs they use coincide with or differ from some of the major frameworks used in contemporary
social policy discussions.
The literature on social movements suggests that understanding collective action frames, or the
“action-oriented sets of beliefs and meanings that inspire and legitimate the activities and campaigns of
a social movement organization” [5] (p. 614), is critical for analyzing how these kinds of movements
develop, and ultimately for understanding why they succeed or fail [6,7]. The importance of framing in
public-health-related social movements has been exemplified in movements related to drinking and
driving, tobacco control, and homelessness. For example, studies have described how framing and
problem construction facilitated the sweeping success of the 1980s anti-drunk driving movement,
despite few changes in the actual rates of drinking and driving or resulting injuries, accidents, and
deaths [8,9]. Similarly, Derry and Waikar [10] demonstrated that antismoking mobilization can be
understood in terms of the contrasting frames used by the tobacco industry and public health activists
(i.e., the former uses a master frame to portray its honesty, with supporting core frames citing the
uncertainty of health risks; and the latter use a master frame of distrust for the industry and core frames
citing the substantial health risks of smoking) [10]. Cress and Snow [11] studied mobilization among
organizations that serve the homeless and concluded that framing processes were necessary to achieve
successful social movement outcomes.
1.1. Key Approaches to Framing Alcohol-Related Problems
A number of frameworks have been widely used by alcohol policy researchers [8,9,12] to define the
nature of and causes of alcohol-related problems. These frameworks include the alcoholism as an
addictive disease model, the alcohol-related problems framework, the personal responsibility and
blame model, and the public health framework for addressing alcohol problems.
The alcoholism as an addictive disease paradigm became the dominant model for conceptualizing
alcohol-related problems in the US after World War II. This approach reflects strong
anti-prohibitionist sentiment and focuses primarily on the problems of addiction within the individual.
In this model, alcoholism is regarded as a loss of control over alcohol in biologically predisposed
individuals who experience a myriad of health and social problems as a result of their addiction.
Individual alcoholics are believed to be the main source of society‟s problems with alcohol, and
providing adequate alcoholism treatment is viewed as the main public policy solution for handling
alcohol-related problems [12].
Although the alcoholism as a disease model was immensely influential and still shapes some
clinical and lay people‟s understanding of alcohol problems, by the 1970s, the scientific community
began to question the validity of bundling such a wide range of problems under the rubric of
alcoholism. As Room [13] noted, a 1979 report to Congress stated that “alcohol problems in the
general population do not seem to form a coherent pattern. The problems are too diffuse to be
described as part of a single concept of alcohol addiction” (p. 62). A National Academy of Sciences
report echoed similar themes, pointing out that although heavy drinkers exhibit the highest rates of
alcohol problems, a larger number of low-quantity drinkers in absolute numbers account for more
alcohol-related problems [2]. Compared with the disease paradigm, this disaggregated approach to
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alcohol problems requires a broader spectrum of strategies (e.g., preventing drinking and driving and
other types of injuries) to address the myriad health and social problems related to alcohol.
The personal responsibility and blame model for alcohol problems was popularized during the wave
of citizen activism regarding drinking and driving in the early 1980s. This model targets the individual
drinker as deviant and criminal for violating laws and harming others. As Renairman [8] stated,
“MADD‟s organizing strategy assiduously avoids attention to corporate and structural sources of
alcohol problems in favor of a rhetoric of individual responsibility, the private moral choice of
drinkers, and solutions based upon both self-regulation by both drinkers and alcohol, advertising and
broadcast industries” (p. 105).
In contrast, traditional public health models [8,13,14] prioritize the roles of alcohol beverage
availability, distribution, sales and marketing, and consumption as the key factors in determining levels
of alcohol-related problems within the society. The key levers for reducing or preventing alcohol-
related problems in these models are regulating the sales and distribution of alcohol (e.g., through price
controls, restrictions on sales venues and hours) and limiting the demand for it (e.g., through curtailing
advertising). From this perspective, the alcohol industry and government policies regarding alcohol
availability, rather than the individual drinker, are regarded as the major loci of responsibility for
society‟s alcohol problems.
1.2. Research Questions
The present study explored how activists defined alcohol problems and what they viewed as the
most important alcohol-related problems in their communities. Our focus on problem definition
reflects the importance of diagnostic framing, as described by Cress and Snow [11]. Diagnostic
framing focuses on articulating the genesis of a problem and on identifying who or what is to blame; as
such, it contrasts with prognostic framing, which focuses on articulating solutions to that problem.
This was an exploratory study, and the major goal of the analyses was to provide a descriptive
account of the key conceptual frameworks used by those who led local or regional alcohol policy
campaigns in seven urban areas across the US. Three central research questions guided the analyses.
First, how did activists define and interpret alcohol problems? Given that the campaigns generally
focused on regulating the sales, marketing, and advertising of alcoholic beverages, we expected that
many activists would describe public health definitions of alcohol problems, rather than approaches
emphasizing alcohol addiction or abuse, or the problems of individual drinkers.
Second, what was the perceived importance for activists of different kinds of problems related to
alcohol use? Our goal was to ascertain whether some issues had more salience than others with respect
to how activists framed alcohol problems. Again, given their policy goals, we expected that activists
would rank public-health-oriented alcohol-related problems more highly than problems at the clinical
or individual level.
Third, were there significant differences in how alcohol problems were defined or ranked, based on
the roles of the activists or on differences in the communities in which they worked? The respondents
were from diverse backgrounds, and their respective communities confronted different kinds of
problems, which could have lead to differences in how problems were framed. For example, the
respondents included personnel who worked in alcohol treatment agencies or were in recovery, as well
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2010, 7
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as law enforcement officers. Both of these groups might be expected to favor models other than the
public health approach (e.g., the alcoholism as a disease framework or the personal responsibility and
blame model). In addition, the communities addressed different kinds of problems (e.g., excessive
rates of drinking under the influence [DUI], alcohol addiction, and homelessness) that might have
predisposed activists working in different sites to espouse different frameworks.
2. Experimental Section
Data for this study were based on the responses of activists who were interviewed in neighborhoods
in seven US cities, including Oakland and Los Angeles, California; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; San
Antonio, Texas; Raleigh, North Carolina; Detroit, Michigan; and Baltimore, Maryland. These cities
were chosen because they all had least a 5-year history of activism regarding alcohol policy issues,
were located in different parts of the US, and included activists working on a range of alcohol policy
issues. The cities were selected on the basis of interviews with several key informants who had worked
extensively on community-based alcohol policy issues in the US, as well as through examining
newspaper records of activism regarding alcohol policy in particular sites.
All of the communities selected were actively engaged in efforts to change local ordinances and/or
statewide laws regarding the sale or marketing of alcoholic beverages. They focused on issues such as
limiting the amount of billboard advertising devoted to alcoholic beverages and reducing or exercising
greater control over liquor stores or licenses. All of these communities achieved at least some of their
goals. Collectively, at least six laws were created or changed at the state level; in Los Angeles, 270
alcohol outlets surrendered their licenses after the civil unrest, and due to community activism many of
them did not re-open [15]; and billboards advertising alcoholic beverages or tobacco products were
taken down in other cities. These goals were achieved through a variety of strategies, including public
awareness and educational campaigns, and the forging of relationships between activists and the
media, elected officials, and a broad range of community organizations. In many cases, framing of
alcohol problems was central to the development of effective strategies. For example, activists from
three of the communities (Milwaukee, Oakland, and San Antonio) pointed out that, at the beginning of
their movement, they often were mistakenly labeled as prohibitionists; in the words of one activist,
they were seen as individuals who were “trying to take away my six-pack of beer after work,” rather
than as individuals trying to offer an alternative to the destructive force alcohol can have on a
community. Reframing was an important aspect of public awareness, and played a large role in
successfully mobilizing communities around efforts for change.
Informants from each site were selected using snowball sampling techniques described by
Luker [16] in her study of pro-life and pro-choice activists. Potential participants for each area were
identified primarily by consulting with community organizers and advocates who had worked with
community groups on alcohol policy issues and were familiar with key activists, and by examining
newspaper coverage of alcohol policy activities that mentioned community leaders. To be included in
the study, each potential informant had to be recommended by at least two people as an individual who
could be considered an important leader regarding alcohol policy work in his or her community. When
neighborhood leaders were contacted or interviewed, they were asked if they knew of other people
who played an important role in local campaigns regarding alcohol whom we could contact. We
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continued the process of asking for referrals and creating lists of people recommended by a least two
sources until we reached the point at which no new names were being submitted. We invited these
individuals to participate in the study and followed up by informing them about the study and
scheduling interviews. Through working with local leaders who supported the goals of the study, we
obtained permission from and completed interviews with most (70% or more) of those invited to
participate in the study. Most of the interviewees were still actively working on alcohol policy issues at
the time they were interviewed.
A total of 184 activists were interviewed across the seven sites. The interviews and fieldwork took
place from August 1996 through the end of 1999. About 40 activists were interviewed in both Oakland
and Los Angeles, 28 in Milwaukee, and 17 to 21 activists in Raleigh, San Antonio, Detroit, and
Baltimore. A little more than a third of the activists were classified as community or neighborhood
activists. Neighborhood activists usually volunteered their time, in contrast with those described as
professionals (41%), who worked with alcohol services for pay in the areas affected by alcohol use and
policy, such as law enforcement, education, city planning, and law. Ten percent of the interviewees
were local or state politicians, six percent were clergy, and seven percent were classified in other
categories. The majority of leaders interviewed were African American (67%), although whites (16%)
and Latinos (14%) also were significantly represented. Asian Americans (2%) and Native Americans
(1%) constituted very small proportions of the sample. A slight majority of the sample was male
(52%); people as young as 20 and as old as 82 were interviewed, and the mean age of interviewees was
approximately 50 years.
The informants were interviewed face to face, either in their homes or in public places (e.g., office
at a local community organization, informant‟s workplace, restaurant). The interviews were tape
recorded and generally ranged in length from 1.5 to 2.5 hours.
A semi-structured interview guide was used for the interviews. The full interviews were coded
using the QSR NUD*IST program (Qualitative Solutions and Research, Non-numerical Unstructured
Data Indexing Searching and Theorizing) and summarized using Filemaker. This study focused on
responses to interview questions about the framing of alcohol problems. Respondents were asked to
tell the interviewer how they defined alcohol problems and what they viewed as the most important
issues or problems related to alcohol in their city or town. A series of codes was developed based on
the themes mentioned by the respondents, and more than 60 individual codes emerged through this
process. The principal investigator and one other researcher jointly coded all the responses using these
categories and came to a consensus about all the codes assigned to each response. This process was
used to ensure no errors or differences occurred in the coding based on having different raters. The
codes assigned to responses were not mutually exclusive and frequently reflected several kinds of
themes. The distribution of responses on the definitions of alcohol problems were compared with those
on the importance of alcohol problems using Wilcoxon tests. Regression analyses were used to
determine if there were significant differences in themes by activist type or city.
3. Results and Discussion
Data from the 60 individual themes that emerged in the initial analysis were grouped into six basic
diagnostic framing categories. Several of these categories reflected themes used in major conceptual
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models; namely, the alcoholism or abusive drinking construct, the individual alcohol-related problems
framework and the public health framework for addressing alcohol problems. As predicted, an
individual responsibility/criminal sanctions framework did not emerge as a strong theme in this
sample. Although respondents in the study recognized individual alcohol-related problems, they
tended to view them as a reflection of life problems and/or as the social and physical effects of alcohol
and not as evidence of criminality and deviance, as implied in the anti-drunk driver movement.
However, many informants described alternate models, which coalesced into three additional themes:
social structural problems that were found in inner city neighborhoods and were embedded in or
exacerbated by alcohol problems, problems with the normative climate of alcohol use, and alcohol‟s
role in drug-related problems. Taken together, the six primary diagnostic frameworks used in the
following analyses included individual alcohol-related problems, alcoholism and alcohol abuse,
public health approaches to alcohol problems, social structural problems related to alcohol use,
problems in normative contexts of alcohol use, and drug-related problems. The frameworks were used
as the basis for the three phases of data analysis described in the following sections. They included
analyses on the respondents‟ definitions of alcohol-related problems, ranking of the relative
importance of alcohol problems, and variation in how alcohol problems are ranked or defined
according to activist role or community setting. Taken together, these results describe the diagnostic
framing characterized by respondents in this study.
Table 1. Definitions of alcohol problems.
Definition
Percentage of respondents N = 181
Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse
51%
Alcoholism, addiction
31%
Abusive or excessive drinking
30%
Alcohol-Related Problems
75%
Individual
General drinking problems
44%
Health problems
14%
Job problems
13%
Self-medication
13%
DUI
9%
Low morale
7%
Idleness
3%
Family and Youth
Family alcohol problems
27%
Youth alcohol problems
12%
Domestic violence
7%
Alcohol Sales and Marketing
46%
Overconcentration of alcohol outlets
16%
Alcohol availability
12%
Alcohol advertising and media images
12%
Problems with outlets
10%
Alcohol beverage type
7%
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2010, 7
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Table 1. Cont.
Targeting practices
7%
Alcohol billboards
5%
Alcohol pricing
5%
Alcohol outlet zoning
3%
Sales to minors
3%
Profit motive
3%
Alcohol sales
3%
Youth availability
2%
Alcohol outlet regulations
2%
Alcohol industry
2%
Alcohol licenses
1%
Alcohol sponsorship
1%
Community Problems
70%
General community problems
28%
Alcohol-related nuisances
25%
Crime
14%
Belligerence
11%
Public drinking
10%
Economic problems
9%
Community comparison
8%
Youth concerns
6%
Blight
3%
Racism
3%
Educational problems
3%
Housing
2%
Safety issues
2%
Government problems
2%
Environmental problems
2%
Lack of alcohol education
2%
Lack of services
2%
Lack of police
1%
Lack of alcohol treatment
1%
Fear
1%
Neglect
0
Unemployment
0
Socio-Cultural Problems
23%
Norms
8%
Rationalizing
7%
Youth norms
5%
No empowerment
2%
Drinking for fun
3%
Lack of respect
2%
Spiritual problems
2%
Lack of empowerment
1%
Social network problems
1%
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2010, 7
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Table 1. Cont.
Drug-Related Issues
17%
Drug problems
10%
Alcohol as a legal drug
9%
3.1. Defining Alcohol-Related Problems
Individual alcohol-related problems
As shown in Table 1, respondents in the study provided strong support for the disaggregated
alcohol-related problems framework, or the notion that drinkers can experience a wide range of
problems related to alcohol use that do not stem from alcohol addiction [13]. When defining alcohol
problems, three-quarters of respondents described a range of negative consequences experienced by
drinkers or their families. Almost half of the respondents (44%) described overall adverse effects of
alcohol use on individual drinkers. For example, one respondent from Detroit said alcohol use
becomes problematic when it “affects your ability to live life productively, to carry out your
responsibilities. . . your ability to function properly, to be able to further your life and your
well-being”. In addition, some of the responses described specific problems related to drinking, such
as health problems (14%), problems in the workplace or with maintaining a job (13%), and driving
under the influence (9%). For example, a respondent from Baltimore said that “on a personal level, if a
person has a problem with alcohol. . . it could be a bad history of driving, getting into trouble. . .
getting along with other folks because they‟re not in their right senses. . . . [Alcohol] causes problems
in the family, at the workplace. . . . Any time they drink too much, that causes these problems, then
that‟s bad”. Another informant from Los Angeles stated, “My personal definition of alcoholism is any
kind of problem. You drinkin‟ and it is related to your drinking, then you‟ve got an alcohol problem. . .
A parking ticket because you was drunk and forgot you parked there, whether there was an automobile
accident or whether you ran into a building and hurt people and property, which constitutes felony
while drinking. . . . Now, either your liver, you got bad nerves, ulcersall the health issues that come
with it are so obvious”. Some of the responses indicated that alcohol is a problem when used by
drinkers for self-medication as a way to escape reality and ease psychological pain (13%), or as a way
of dealing with depression or low morale (7%). For example, one informant from Detroit defined
alcohol problems as hopelessness: “Just no future, no vision, no self-esteem”. She explained that
“self-esteem is the way we feel about ourselves; if we feel hopeless, we need an escape or we think we
need an escape. [Instead of jogging or working out] we go get a 40-ounce”. Finally, a few respondents
defined alcohol problems in relation to being idle or standing around with nothing else to do.
Family and youth alcohol-related problems also were a major concern for respondents in the study.
When defining alcohol problems, more than a quarter referred to the harmful effects of alcohol use on
family life. The major problems included marital discord and breakups; diverting money from the
needs of families and children (e.g., food, shoes, and rent) to support drinking habits; and child neglect
and abuse and domestic violence. Echoing some of these themes, a respondent from Oakland stated,
“In terms of the community, I see that there is a great deal of domestic violence, and so there are many
divorces and many families are abandoned. And I see [as] the result of that, there is very little
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participation in the children‟s schooling. And since there‟s not enough money at home, the children
often have to look for work instead of going to school. And then their mothers also have to find one or
two jobs because welfare doesn‟t give enough money. And so I see that alcohol causes all of the
disrepair and destruction of the family”. Another respondent from this city talked about the
cause-and-effect relationship of alcohol as it relates to husbands who are abusive drinkers. He focused
on situations in which a man might “drink up his check”, letting his kids starve and rent go unpaid,
which would the cause his spouse to get upset, and be possibly beaten by him.
About 10% of the informants mentioned youth drinking issues when defining alcohol-related
problems. Most of the comments were references to underage drinking, problems stemming from
youth drinking, or youth drinking environments. The kinds of common problems associated with youth
drinking included violence or disruptions at parties and accidents related to driving under the
influence. A respondent from Baltimore said, “I know we have a problem in terms of use of alcohol by
minors. The statistics in that report [Governor‟s Blue Ribbon Commission] are pretty startling about
use of alcohol by minors; the dangers associated with that use related to drunk driving, drinking, and
boating accidents; violence associated with the use of alcohol, including sexual violence”. One
informant from Detroit found that alcohol use is a serious problem among African Americans,
particularly young people. He described the regular practice of high school students taking their lunch
breaks to buy 40-ounce bottles of alcohol, which they consume in parking lots while socializing with
friends, with the full awareness of teachers. The drinking continues with students purchasing alcohol
on the way home from school and consuming to the point where drinking on one‟s porch and leaving
the malt liquor bottles behind “becomes a part of [the] culture of the neighborhoods.
Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
Models of alcohol problems based on addictive or abusive drinking were widely discussed by
informants in the study. More than half (51%) of respondents defined alcohol problems in these terms.
Responses describing alcoholism or addiction (30%) emphasized symptoms such as dependence, loss
of control, and tolerance. For example, one informant from Detroit stated that “alcoholics. . . are
physically and psychologically dependent on alcohol” and defined alcohol as a drug because users
build up a tolerance for it and require increasing amounts before they exhibit signs of intoxication. In
Los Angeles, an informant defined alcohol problems as “somebody who is addicted or their life is
controlled in a daily acquisition of alcoholic beverages”. An informant from Milwaukee defined
alcohol problems in terms of his own experience as an alcoholic, whereby alcohol takes over a
person‟s life to the point he or she cannot “do anything without alcohol”. A respondent from San
Antonio commented on the medical consequences of continual alcohol use and difficulties with
withdrawal: “The medical problems that occur from them constantly being exposed to the alcohol is
long range. . . . When this person is a alcoholic, it‟s hard on detoxification, as opposed to a person who
is dependent on a drug like marijuana or dependent on a drug like heroin. The withdrawal symptoms
and all the things that person has to go through medically, it could tear you apart. . . . It‟s very
traumatic when you see somebody that you know going through the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol”.
Aside from addiction, some informants (30%) defined alcohol problems in terms of abusive or
excessive drinking. Most often informants described intoxication or drinking to the point that it leads
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to personality changes or social disruption. An informant from Detroit defined alcohol problems as
“when there‟s a overindulgence which causes the person who‟s consuming the alcohol behavior or
mood to change. . . [which] could possibly lead to a violent individual or individual with no rationale
or whatever”. A respondent from Los Angeles made a similar point: “Alcohol problems is when a
person drinks on a continual basis. . . they must have that 6-pack every night or several cocktails. It
can also be a problem for even just a weekend drinker. And, it just changes up the person‟s whole
personality”. In Milwaukee, a respondent defined alcohol problems as “any use above moderation”
that impairs judgment or physical actions, or a negative change in behavior because of the abuse
of alcohol.
Public health approaches to alcohol problems
A public-health-oriented model of alcohol problems also was widely reflected in responses by
informants in the study. Nearly half of those interviewed (46%) discussed one or more issues related to
alcohol sales and marketing. Alcohol problems were defined in terms of the overconcentration of
alcohol outlets (16%); problems with selling practices and the environment in and around outlets
(10%); and challenges with zoning, licensing, and regulating stores (6%). A respondent from
Milwaukee focused on the problems of having a high density of alcohol outlets and the problematic
selling practices of owners. He mentioned a neighborhood population composed of 63% youth, with
almost 30 liquor stores in a 14-block area. He said many business owners knew welfare had been cut
in Wisconsin, so they would not take a 6-pack apart and sell single beers at the beginning of the
month; however, in the second through fourth weeks, “they know people are going through real hard
times, they‟ll set up deals and stuff. So they could still make their money and pull you in. . . . And they
most definitely try to work with the minors in the neighborhood”. A community leader from Oakland
also discussed the problems with outlets, which she said were intensified by the fact that her
neighborhood had “five liquor stores within two blocks”. This respondent viewed “alcohol problems as
a liquor outlet [includes stores where at least 30 to 40% of sales are in alcohol] and it can be people in
bars”. She stated, “I have noticed that whether it‟s a momma-and-poppa store on a corner, if they sell
alcohol. . . people will go in and buy beverages and come out. And then they‟ll stand there and [go]
back and forth just getting alcoholic beverages. . . . And then when they get too intoxicated to go about
their business. . . they would just either sit down there in front of the store and go to sleep or they stand
there and they beg. . . . The fact there they were out there begging was. . . one thing that was bad. . .
cause most of the people in this community are working families or either seniors”. The respondent
also mentioned that the families and seniors had to pass youth selling drugs out in front these
establishments, litter from the numerous containers of alcohol, and/or people lying or sitting down in
the street. A respondent from Los Angeles linked overconcentration with zoning and licensing issues:
“Alcohol became a problem when the city planners allowed them to over-saturate it with liquor stores,
when the land usage laws were ignored. The city administrators were aware that there was an
overconcentration of alcohol. . . but they looked the other way. They haven‟t sold any liquor license
since 1965; however, liquor stores are popping up all over because the liquor licenses that were sold
never expired”.
Easy accessibility to alcoholic beverages through high levels of physical availability (12%),
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attractive pricing (5%), and aggressive sales and promotion (3%) were other important issues voiced
by informants in their definitions of alcohol problems. Respondents linked high levels of alcohol
availability to heavy alcohol consumption and to a variety of related problems. Echoing these
concerns, one informant from Raleigh said, “The major thing is the sheer amount of alcohol that‟s sold
in our neighborhood is a problem . . . . The fact that more alcohol is sold than any other legal product. .
. that‟s a real problem because it encourages alcoholism, domestic abuse, trash, filthiness around the
neighborhood”. A respondent from Los Angeles said, “Alcohol [is] usually the most available in
communities that can least afford it. And when I say the most available, I mean. . . it‟s not unusual on
some of the main thoroughfares to find 4 or 5 liquor stores within six blocks”. In Detroit, the director
of a community-based organization focused on cheap pricing and convenient packaging of alcohol,
which “causes the most devastation”. He stated, “It‟s the drug that‟s legal, it‟s the drug that‟s most
readily available, and the packaging is such that anybody can afford it. There was a time when those
little bitty airline bottles of liquor or booze. . . there was a time when the only place you could buy that
was a souvenir shop on an airplane. . . . But now they sell it in the stores all day every day, 75 cents, 50
cents. . . . They went from the fifth. . . [to] the pint. Then they went to the pocket pint, which is smaller
than a pint, just large enough to slip right into the ol‟ back pocket, whip it out whenever you want, to
the airline size. In other words, we‟re covering all areas of the market. If you got 50 cents, you could
walk in here and get a little swigger to shake the hanks off of you”. In addition to expressing concerns
about the high quantities and low prices of beverages available in these communities, some informants
focused on characteristics of beverages (alcohol beverage type 7%) they believed to be particularly
harmful, such as fortified wines, malt liquor, and 40-ounce portions.
Alcohol advertising and media images (12%) and alcohol-related billboards (5%) also were defined
as alcohol problems within these communities. Informants believed the glamorization of alcohol
enticed people, especially vulnerable populations, such as youth and the poor, to drink either to
achieve status or popularity or to escape from problems. Advertisements from television and billboards
were identified as the major vehicles through which these messages were conveyed, and informants
believed their influence was enhanced by subliminal seduction. One informant from Baltimore said,
“In this community, we have a lotta kids that are teenagers that are doing the 40-thing. It‟s so popular
because they got the commercials and they used to have the billboards. . . . And these teenagers can‟t
wait for somebody to buy them wine coolers or beer or whatever it is, whatever the drink of choice is,
like Alize. . . . A few people used to drink it. . . but now because the advertisement has pushed it,
people are drinking that more often. . . . The advertisement is what pushed these things. . . and it is so
obvious, but nobody realizes it”. A respondent from San Antonio remarked that alcohol billboards
were very prevalent in low-income areas and kept alcohol fresh in a user‟s mind. He described a big
sign that stood over a church and showed a fifth of liquor being poured into a glass over ice. To get the
sign removed, activists worked for many months and met with local and state politicians. However,
after being removed, it was replaced with another alcohol ad “with a pretty lady holding the bottle”.
This respondent was particularly concerned about the message to children who saw billboards in a
supposedly safe environment. A respondent from Milwaukee criticized the heavy promotion of alcohol
on billboards throughout the community and argued that “subliminal seduction” helps entice
consumers to purchase alcoholic beverages. In Oakland, one informant cited as an aspect of alcohol
problems “a subliminal level that comes through advertisements or romanticism that comes with the
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2010, 7
1237
illusions of the freedom that alcohol brings”.
Informants in the study were particularly concerned about alcohol promotion activities targeted at
vulnerable populations, such as ethnic minorities, low-income groups, or youths (7%). Leaders
believed targeting poor or other disadvantaged neighborhoods with excessive advertising and alcohol
sale venues, while excluding more powerful and affluent communities from these tactics, was
inherently unjust and led to higher rates of alcohol problems and worse social conditions in poorer
areas. One respondent from Oakland said, “We‟re not upper class. We‟re semi lower income. That the
alcohol industry targets us big time. They make it quite easy and available to buy your one can of
poison. . . . You know that strong shit that they‟re out of their mind with one bottle of it, you know.
That malt liquor stuff. . . . What an easy target is someone that you know maybe not got a lot of
education, that may not have a job, and they set them up for addiction. . . . And they‟re starting
younger and younger and younger and younger as the years go by”.
Social structural problems related to alcohol use
Although few contemporary studies have focused on community and neighborhood problems
related to alcohol use, respondents in this study were keenly aware of these problems. More than
two-thirds discussed alcohol problems in terms of the impact of alcohol use on broader community
life. Within this category, the largest proportion of respondents (28%) suggested alcohol use or related
issues (e.g., sales and marketing) were problematic because they had negative effects on the
community as a whole and/or could be considered a social problem. For example, one of the activists
in Los Angeles stated, We look at alcohol problems like any other social problem. It has social
groups, and we would say that there is a number of different social conditions that create the substance
abuse problem; specifically, the alcohol problem in the communities that we work in, which are mostly
Latino. So we don‟t look at it as an individual issue. We see a tremendous social problem in that it
involves thousands and tens of thousands of people, and I‟m not just talking about people that abuse,
but the people that are victims of domestic violence or economic [problems]”. A number of the
informants also defined alcohol problems in terms of the nuisances (e.g., loitering, litter, harassment,
and noise; 25%) and anti-social behaviors (e.g., belligerence; 10%) associated with public drinking and
its effects on community life. Many of these themes were stated by a respondent from Milwaukee who
said, “I define an alcohol problem with people who are either walking up and down the streets, in
clearly intoxicated stages; carrying bottles of alcohol. . . whistling or being loud and rude to people;
urinating; defecating in public, which happens around here; leaving their bottles; being passed out on
your steps. Some drunk drivings you‟ll see up and down the street here. Accidents, people vomiting,
that‟s the outward appearances of an alcohol problem here in this immediate neighborhood”.
A number of activists (14%) defined alcohol problems in terms of the impact of alcohol use on
crime in their communities. The most common crimes attributed to alcohol were robbery or stealing;
crimes associated with lack of inhibition, such as bar fights and violent confrontations; and
prostitution. One informant, a police officer from Los Angeles, described some of these issues:
“Ninety percent of the females we arrested were involved with alcohol at the time of arrest, where
they‟re either inebriated or involved with consuming. . . . And then the people. . . trying to make dates
with these girls—most of „em are under the influence, so it lowered their inhibitions to go after things
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2010, 7
1238
like that. . . . Most of the fights that occurred at the bars was abuse of alcohol. People just lose their
tempers and [are] out of control and then. . . we have an apparent homicide. All related to this alcohol
situation”. An informant from Raleigh focused on neighborhood theft as an issue: “I define it when I
see people that are intoxicated hanging around on the streets, not working. At the day care, people
break in cars the minute they park „em out there. . . . We‟ve had several break-ins in the mornings
when parents drop children off. I consider that a problem because they have to support their habits and
they are not working, so they go out to do whatever they need to do. We‟ve had several break-ins in
the day care, too”.
Some leaders interviewed (10%) expressed concerns about the impact of alcohol use on local
community economies, especially those related to depressed housing values and the lack of economic
development in poorer communities. For example, one interviewee from Raleigh stated he was
focused on the family “trying to climb out of poverty” who lives on the same block and sees their
property value “go to hell” and “who have a 8- or 10-year-old kid that they don‟t think they can let
play in his own neighborhood”. A respondent from Los Angeles suggested that alcohol consumption,
sales, and distribution create environmental problems, such as the focus on alcohol outlets to the
exclusion of other types of businesses: “I think a lot of that [lack of commercial development] has to
do with people saying, „Oh, there‟s a lot of liquor stores in the two-block radius. I‟m not putting my
Starbuck[s] or my Borders Books [there].‟” From a related perspective, some informants (8%)
described how questionable alcohol marketing and sales tactics or problematic drinking styles were
concentrated in poorer or ethnic minority communities, as compared with those in middle-class or
suburban environments. Other structural problems (e.g., the presence of blight, racism, educational
problems, problems with housing, and lack of alcohol treatment or prevention services) were
mentioned, but with less frequency. A somewhat higher percentage of respondents (6%) voiced
concerns about the exposure of youth to adverse social conditions in communities as a result of alcohol
use or sales and marketing.
Problems in normative contexts of alcohol use
Another major issue raised by respondents defining alcohol-related problems was the
interrelationship between alcohol use and the social environment (23%). Some leaders interviewed
believed permissive social norms (8%), the tendency to ignore or rationalize problems associated with
drinking (7%), and the belief that drinking is necessary for recreation or fun (3%) contribute to
drinking problems. One respondent from Oakland said, “I can‟t speak for other cultures. . . but I can
tell you about Latino culture. If you‟re going to have a party for a child, if you want everyone to have a
good time, the children, the adults. . . many times you would include liquor. You would bring alcohol
to the party, and for me, thatwell, some years backthat would be very normal. . . . I would see that
there would be a birthday or a baptism, and you‟d have the piñata for the child, but there would always
be liquor. I think that is something that we have to educate our community about. . . because I think
that [at] a party for children, there doesn‟t necessarily have to [be] liquor there. Although the children
won‟t drink the alcohol. . . from the time they see this, they grow up seeing it as something normal”.
An informant from San Antonio said he does not define alcohol problems from the standpoint of being
an alcoholic, but in terms of people overdrinking for recreational purposes: “I just think people use
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2010, 7
1239
alcohol to an excess. . . . It‟s just that people think that alcohol is a way to have fun. And that‟s where
the misconception is, and the misuse starts”. In addition to these issues, a few respondents defined
alcohol problems in terms of the disrespectful behavior of drinkers (2%), as a reflection of spiritual
problems (2%), and as a potential danger to the broader social fabric (1%).
Drug-related problems
In defining alcohol problems, some informants focused on drug-related issues (17%). Some viewed
alcohol use as particularly harmful because it leads to illicit drug use and abuse. For example, an
informant from Detroit, a police officer, defined alcohol as an abused drug that leads to the abuse of
other drugs: “Alcohol is like the gateway. It’s the formation, the start of, the beginning [of] problems
into other substance abuse”. He described the progression from 40-ounces of alcohol to cigarettes and
cigars, then on to marijuana, and eventually to heroin and cocaine. This abuse leads to the loss of jobs
due to inebriation, inability to function, or failure to pass drug screening tests. Other responses focused
on the fact that alcohol is a legal drug (9%) that can be as dangerous as or more easily abused than
illegal drugs. These responses often described the joint use of drugs and alcohol or the physical
proximity of drug dealing to alcohol outlets. An informant from Baltimore stated, “All of our open-end
drug markets are located next to alcohol outlets. . . . Alcohol is the single most abused drug in our
neighborhood. It is abused by those persons who are manically depressed. People who are
self-medicating [with] alcohol who also use other substances. Crack users kick their high, so to speak,
by using malt liquor and malt liquor that is 5 to 6 times higher in potency than the average malt liquor.
. . . The illegal drugs are not as abused as alcohol”.
3.2. Ranking Alcohol-Related Problems
After defining alcohol-related problems, informants were asked to describe which alcohol problems
they viewed as most important in their community. The respondents mentioned many of the themes
described in the previous section; however, substantial and significant differences were found with
respect to the prevalence of themes ranked as the most important problems relative to the themes used
to define alcohol problems (Table 2). Probably the most dramatic difference was between the
percentage of respondents defining alcohol problems in terms of alcoholism (31%), compared with the
percentage viewing it as one of the most important problems in their area (7%). A large gap also was
found between the percentage defining alcohol problems in terms of abusive or excessive drinking
(30%), compared with the percentage stating it was a very important problem (10%). In sum, although
half of the leaders defined alcohol problems in terms of alcoholism or abusive drinking, only 17%
ranked these problems as among the most important problems in their communities.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2010, 7
1240
Table 2. Comparison of definitions and rankings for alcohol problems.
Definition of
alcohol problems
N = 181
Most important
alcohol problem
N = 161
51%
17%***
31%
7%***
30%
10%***
75%
42%**
44%
15%
14%
9%
13%
8%
13%
4%**
9%
9%
7%
6%
3%
1%
27%
15%*
12%
17%+
7%
10%
46%
55%
16%
19%
12%
17%
12%
12%
10%
9%
7%
6%
7%
9%
5%
4%
5%
6%
3%
2%
3%
6%
3%
2%
3%
3%
2%
7%
2%
4%
2%
3%
1%
2%
1%
2%
70%
64%
28%
12%***
25%
18%
14%
25%**
11%
7%
10%
10%
9%
12%
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2010, 7
1241
Table 2. Cont.
8%
6%
6%
9%+
3%
6%
3%
3%
3%
2%
2%
3%
2%
3%
2%
3%
2%
2%
2%
9%*
2%
2%
1%
3%
1%
3%
1%
2%
0
2%
0
6%
23%
20%
8%
12%
7%
4%
5%
9%
2%
2%
3%
1%
2%
1%
2%
1%
1%
1%
1%
1%
17%
20%
10%
17%*
9%
5%
A substantial divide also was found between the percentage of informants defining alcohol
problems in terms of negative drinking consequences for individuals or families (44%) and the
percentage ranking these issues as the most important problems (15%). Moreover, significantly more
informants defined alcohol problems as self-medication (14%) and family problems (27%) than saw
those as among the most important problems (4% and 15%, respectively). In addition, fewer
respondents ranked health problems, job problems, low morale, and idleness as the most important
problems than included these factors as part of their definition of alcohol problems, although these
differences were not statistically significant. However, informants were as or more likely to regard
youth alcohol-related problems (p < 0.10) and domestic violence as among the most important alcohol
problems as they were to include these factors in their problem definition.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2010, 7
1242
Although respondents deemphasized alcoholism, abusive drinking, and drinking problems in their
rankings of important problems, they were just as likely or more likely to focus on themes related to
alcohol sales and marketing, community problems, socio-cultural problems and drug-related issues as
they were to include these factors when defining alcohol problems. In fact, significantly more
respondents stated that youth availability, crime, drug problems, and lack of alcohol education were
among the most important problems than discussed these issues when defining alcohol problems. For
example, the proportion of respondents ranking crime as among the most important alcohol problems
was almost twice as high as the proportion defining alcohol problems in those terms (25% versus
14%), and the proportion regarding drugs as an important problem was 17%, compared with 10% who
included drugs as a factor in defining alcohol problems. Respondents were four times more likely to
view lack of alcohol education as important rather than to define alcohol problems in those terms (9%
versus 2%). A similar trend was found with respect to alcohol outlet regulation and youth concerns.
The only major negative discrepancy between defining versus ranking alcohol problems occurred with
regard to respondents mentioning general community problems (28% versus 12%). However, this
should be considered in conjunction with the finding that a higher percentage of respondents ranked
crime and lack of alcohol education among the most important issues than mentioned them in defining
alcohol problems.
Table 3. Percent distribution of activist types, by city.
Oakland
N = 38
Los
Angeles
N = 41
Detroit
N = 41
San
Antonio N
= 19
Raleigh
N = 17
Baltimore
N = 21
Milwaukee
N = 28
Community
activists
24
42
10
26
71
52
43
Professional
activists
60
44
50
42
12
10
50
Politicians
13
5
5
5
18
14
7
Clergy
3
7
10
10
0
10
0
Other
0
2
25
16
0
14
0
Chi square = 5.742, df = 24, p = 0.000.
Table 4. Significant predictors in regression models for definitions of alcohol problems by
city and activist type
Alcoholism &
alcohol abuse
Alcohol sales
and marketing
Community
problems
Socio-cultural
problems
Drug problems
Politician
--
--
--
ns
ns
Professional
--
--
--
ns
ns
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2010, 7
1243
Table 4. Cont.
Clergy
--
0.021
--
ns
0.001
Oakland
--
--
0.021
ns
ns
Los
Angeles
--
--
ns
ns
ns
Detroit
0.016
--
ns
0.010
ns
San
Antonio
--
--
ns
0.003
ns
Raleigh
--
--
0.007
ns
ns
Baltimore
--
--
0.023
0.008
ns
Adjusted R
2
=
0.026
Adjusted R
2
=
0.026
Adjusted R
2
=
0.076
Adjusted R
2
=
0.096
Adjusted R
2
=
0.078
df = 1
df = 1
df = 6
df = 9
df = 9
F = 5.87
F = 5.472
F = 3.470
F = 2.982
F = 1.936
Table 5. Significant predictors in regression models for ranking alcohol problems by city
and activist type.
Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
Community problems
Politicians
0.013
ns
Professionals
ns
0.032
Clergy
ns
ns
Oakland
ns
ns
Los Angeles
ns
ns
Detroit
ns
ns
San Antonio
ns
ns
Raleigh
ns
0.00
Baltimore
0.001
ns
Adjusted R
2
= 0.108
Adjusted R
2
= 0.077
df = 9
df = 9
F = 3.008
F = 2.381
3.3. Variation in Defining and Ranking Alcohol-Related Problems
The analyses explored whether significant differences existed between how alcohol problems were
defined and how they were ranked by respondents in different communities and by informants who
played different types of roles in community leadership. Because differences existed in the distribution
of types of activists across different cities (Table 3), regression analyses were conducted to analyze the
joint effect of community site and activist type on each of the problem indices (Tables 4 and 5). The
results showed that although relatively few differences were found with respect to how respondents in
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2010, 7
1244
different cities or roles framed alcohol-related problems, these differences were more likely to occur
when defining, rather than ranking, problems. First, informants from Detroit (p = 0.016) were
significantly more likely than were those from other cities to define alcohol problems in terms of
alcohol addiction and abuse, while respondents from Oakland (p = 0.021), Raleigh (p = 0.007) and
Baltimore (p = 0.023) were significantly more likely than were those from other cities to define these
problems in terms of community issues. In addition, respondents residing in Detroit (p = 0.010), San
Antonio (p = 0.003) and Baltimore (p = 0.008) were more likely than were others to mention
socio-cultural issues when defining alcohol-related problems. Religious leaders were significantly
more likely to define alcohol problems in terms of alcohol sales and marketing (p = 0.021) and drug
problems (p = 0.000) than were other informants.
In terms of ranking alcohol-related problems, politicians (p = 0.013) and informants living in
Baltimore (p = 0.001) were more likely than were others to describe alcohol abuse and alcohol
addiction as important alcohol problems, and professional activists (p = 0.32) and residents of Raleigh
(p = 0.0000) were more likely than were others to view community-level problems in this manner.
Although few overall differences were found with respect to how respondents from different areas
or in different roles framed alcohol-related problems, the findings suggest that framing processes may
be nuanced according to different community contexts or policy goals. For example, respondents in
both of the cities that emphasized community-level problems were engaged in policy changes
regarding alcohol outlets, and respondents in communities that emphasized the socio-cultural context
of alcohol abuse and addiction were engaged in fighting media images of alcohol.
4. Conclusions
The findings from this study illustrate that activists engaged in efforts to change alcohol policies in
local communities expressed some of the same conceptualizations as did those characterizing the
dominant models for framing alcohol problems. Their definitions of alcohol problems reflected some
of the assumptions associated with the alcoholism as a disease model, the alcohol problems
perspective, and the public health model of alcohol problems. The only model that had little support
was the individual responsibility and blame model, described in the drunk driver reform movement.
However, the findings also showed the emergence of other significant frameworks not described in the
literature. These models focused on the impact of alcohol use on the broader community and
neighborhood context, on problems in the normative context of alcohol use, and on problems linking
alcohol use with illicit drug use.
When the respondents were asked to rank problems in terms of their importance, the community
model of alcohol problems and public health model emerged as the most dominant, followed by the
alcohol problems perspective, normative problems and drug problems related to alcohol, and finally
models based on alcoholism as a disease or abusive drinking.
As described previously, the goal of the study was to describe the frameworks used by leaders
engaged in campaigns to change alcohol policies in inner city areas, and to examine their diagnostic
framing in order to better understand how social movements form. Social movement theorists have
argued that the framing process mirrors the goals and strategies of activists seeking social
change [5,11]. Given that most of the leaders interviewed were engaged in alcohol policy work
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2010, 7
1245
focused on regulating the sales, marketing, and advertising of alcoholic beverages, it was not
surprising that they ranked public health definitions of alcohol problems very highly. However, the
strong focus on community problems in both defining and ranking alcohol problems was not
anticipated. This framework has not received much attention in the literature, with the notable
exception of recent ecological studies linking alcohol outlets with crime, violence, and sexually
transmitted diseases [15,17,18]. The dominant frameworks for alcohol problems prevention, like those
for other health promotion efforts, have focused on changing individual lifestyles [19]. Although the
public health model of alcohol problems has to some extent embraced problems related to the sale and
marketing of alcoholic beverages, it has largely ignored the economic and social conditions in inner
city neighborhoods in which alcohol is promoted and sold.
In fact, the adverse impact of alcohol at the community and neighborhood level appears to be one of
the most salient ways of framing alcohol problems for citizen groups interested in social activism in
inner city communities. Based on interviews in this study, the public use of alcohol was perceived to
have very negative consequences in areas with high levels of crime, poverty, blight, drug use, and
other social problems. A previous analysis from this study [20] showed that leaders became involved
in alcohol policy campaigns in part to address long-standing neighborhood problems of crime,
disorder, and drug use, which they saw as linked to public drinking as well as to economic
underdevelopment. Frustration with these adverse living conditions and the desire for neighborhood
improvement prompted local communities to organize around alcohol problems.
The findings from the present study suggest that expanded frameworks of alcohol problems that
encompass neighborhood- and community-level effects might be most useful for developing
prevention approaches that relate to the experiences of people living in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
As described in recent research on alcohol policy [21, 22], the study results also affirm the need for
adopting broader public health alcohol policies that include a focus on access to health education and
on changing drinking norms, especially for youth. In addition, the findings suggest a need for
additional research examining the interrelationships of alcohol availability and other social problems
with community economic, political, and social development, such as discussed in the recent work by
Theall et al. [17] on alcohol availability, infectious disease, and social capital.
Acknowledgements
This research was funded by grants from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
(RO1 AA10195) and the Substance Abuse Research Policy program (39033) at the Robert Wood
Johnson Foundation. I would like to acknowledge and thank all the community leaders in Oakland,
Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Baltimore, Detroit, San Antonio and Raleigh who participated in the study.
In addition, special thanks to Makani Themba who served as the primary consultant on the project and
for the administrative and research staff at the Institute of Scientific Analysis who conducted
interviews and participated in data collection efforts. Thanks also to Jude Berman and Laurie Drabble
for their helpful comments on drafts of this paper and for research and manuscript preparation support
by Angela Ni.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2010, 7
1246
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© 2010 by the authors; licensee Molecular Diversity Preservation International, Basel, Switzerland.
This article is an open-access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative
Commons Attribution license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).
... The current study explored the specific strategies employed by activists in inner cities for mobilizing communities and confronting alcohol-related problems. The study was based on in-depth interviews with inner city activists across multiple cities, extending research that was conducted on the construction and framing of alcohol-related problems from the same sample of respondents (Herd, 2010(Herd, , 2011. ...
... An earlier article exploring how alcohol problems were framed by grassroots activists and leaders engaged campaigns to mobilize constituents and Strategies to Reduce Alcohol-Related Problems 379 change alcohol policies in inner cities (Herd, 2010), based on the same sample as the current study, found endorsement of a public health model for framing alcohol problems. The study also found endorsement of other frames such as a community model, which emphasized social structural problems related to alcohol use, and a disease model, which was reflected in concerns about the impact of addiction on individuals and family members. ...
... For example, narratives about working with police on issues concerning alcohol policy expanded to address broader concerns such as mistrust of police or inequities in enforcement of laws prohibiting driving under the influence of alcohol. Other researchers have noted that alcohol-related problems intersect with larger community concerns about social and environmental justice, such as concerns about social control, discrimination, and structural inequality (Alaniz, 1998;Herd, 1993Herd, , 2010Herd, , 2011Romley et al., 2007), as well as corporate practices that damage health (Freudenberg, Bradley, & Serrano, 2009). Consistent with the perspective of interviewees, Themba (1999) pointed to the importance of viewing ''issueoriented work as part of a whole movement for community healing and recovery'' (p. ...
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This study explored strategies employed by activists engaged in efforts to change policies and laws related to selling and promoting alcoholic beverages based on in-depth interviews with 184 social activists in seven U.S. major cities. Nine strategies aimed at improving local conditions and influencing policy were described by activists across regional contexts. Grassroots mobilization was central to all other strategies, which included the creation or enforcement of laws, meeting with elected officials, media advocacy, working with police/law enforcement, education and training, direct action, changing community norms, and negotiating with store owners.
... In the 1990s, often led by Black church groups, communities mobilized to challenge alcohol advertising messages and to limit the placement of ads. 46 Sim-Greater exposure to marketing of HFSS foods and more positive attitudes towards food marketing -two aspects of racialized food marketinglikely contribute to higher consumption of HFSS foods among Black and Latino consumers. ...
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We propose that marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to Black and Latino consumers results from the intersection of a business model in which profits come primarily from marketing an unhealthy mix of products, standard targeted marketing strategies, and societal forces of structural racism, and contributes to health disparities.
... Kollektiv handling avhenger av samproduksjon mellom ulike aktører, både de som støtter handlingen og de som opponerer mot den (Jasper, 2010;Melucci, 1996). Deltakerne i kollektive handlinger benytter seg av både offentlige narrativer, forskning og teoretiske eller ideologiske modeller for å ramme inn sin sak, sine handlingsmuligheter, samt sin selvoppfattelse (Ganz, 2011;Herd, 2010;Melucci, 1995b). På denne måten er den kollektive handlingen også avhengig av responsen (eller mangelen på respons) handlingen får. ...
Thesis
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This PhD-dissertation is a participatory action research study of self-organization among people experiencing homelessness. The study is based on the housing project “Karigate” – a resident led community with democratically led businesses for people disenfranchised from access to housing and work. The dissertation aims to contribute to new knowledge about barriers and possibilities for self-organization, among people with challenging housing situations, by studying the project aimed to create a new housing solution, and by mobilizing people who have experienced homelessness themselves. The overall research question is: Which factors are important for self-organization among people experiencing homelessness, and in what way? A key focal point for the dissertation is the study of self-organization as a collective action. Accordingly, the dissertation is inspired by social movement theory, where collective action is connected to processes of collective identity, collective action framing, resource mobilization and political opportunities. Other perspectives used to understand the collective action are identity and positioning, stigma and participatory democracy. The study is informed by a critical realist epistemology, where practice and experiments represent opportunities to explore potentials in an unfinished world. Social structures are constituted by a set of positions taken by actors, that make up social conditions, which are recreated and transformed by the actors’ activities. Participatory action research and a critical-utopian direction allows for exploring and challenging the frontier land of forms of self-organization considered possible within the existing order, by realizing visions of what the world can become (Mathiesen, 2011; Melucci, 1992). The study is based on a four-year project to establish “Karigate”. The project was initiated by a group of women in a homeless shelter, and they planned and implemented it together with social workers, me as researcher, and a non-governmental organization (NGO). The collective action and the production of knowledge are both a joint effort between the participants and the researcher, by continuously alternating between practice, data production, dialogue and reflection. Data consist of field notes, qualitative interviews, dialogue meetings and written documents, analyzed in collaboration. The results show three main findings contributing to the understanding of possibilities for self-organization among homeless people. The first is how self-organization was hampered by the participants experience of stigma and institutionalization. The second finding is how consciousness-raising and language was essential for the development of a collective identity, a sense of “we” and a coherent narrative about “Karigate”. The third finding is how the organization of the project and the relation to the NGO were crucial for the emergence of the project, as well as its termination. The dissertation is composed of four scientific articles. Article 1 analyzes how language work was necessary to raise awareness among the participants, the researcher, and the outside world, about categories and concepts that limited the courses of actions, possibilities and horizon for self-organization. Challenging the concepts that kept the participants in stigmatized positions; service user, user control, housing facility and substance misuser, started a process of consciousness-raising. This process created knowledge that made new practical opportunities to realize “Karigate” possible. Article 2 analyzes how collective identity and collective action interacted in the meeting between the initiators and later participants. The participants developed solidarity and collective identity through processes characterized by boundary-making with the outside world, group consciousness of language, and negotiations about the idea and narrative of the project. The collective identity emerged from the tension between politics of identity and ambitions for material change. Article 3 shows the importance of project organization and the relation to the NGO. The article analyzes how the relation between the participants, the researcher and the NGO changed during the project period. Of paramount importance is how the level of participation varied in different phases. The resources from the NGO were necessary to realize the project. Simultaneously, several challenges contributed to strong dependence and co-optation of the self-organized project; the challenges were related to power differences, different understandings of participation, project organization, and to the NGO’s role as both service provider and advocate for the disadvantaged. Article 4 discusses this finding in an analysis of challenges in the encounter between marginalized groups’ collective actions and helping professions. In the article we discuss such processes as affected by political and institutional context, collective action framing and identity, and develop a model for reflection over similar processes. The overall contribution of the study is how self-organization among homeless is affected by processes related to identity, collective action, resource mobilization and organizational arrangements. The results uncover new knowledge about homeless people’s needs, resources and possibilities, and barriers related to stigma and organizational context. The interaction between language and consciousness, collective identity and collective action appears particularly important for understanding the emergence of the self-organized project. Consciousness-raising and identity work was not just and end, but a necessary means for working to improve the material conditions.
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