“Alcohol flows across cultures: Drinking cultures in transnational and comparative perspective”
International Research Symposium, St Anne’s College, Oxford, 29–30 June 2016
"The new drinking culture in Italian wine production area: When competence becomes a protective factor"
Dr Franca Beccaria
Eclectica, Institute for Training and Research, Torino, Italy
The source data of the present contribution is a mixed-method research conducted in Piedmont (N-W Italy) comparing wine-production-areas and only-consumption-areas (Beccaria 2016; Beccaria & Rolando, forthcoming). Unexpectedly, analyses of mortality, morbidity and at risk consumptions show advantageous data in municipalities with higher presence of vineyards.
Aims. The main aim of the study is to shed light on these epidemiological results through qualitative methods focusing on historical and cultural dimensions that can have a protective impact of negative consequences of drinking.
Methods. Eighty-one in-depth individual interviews have been conducted including males and females, from three cohorts and covering two areas (with higher versus lower vineyard acreage). Interviews focus on the alcohol socialization process, patterns of consumptions, and lifetime changes in drinking consumptions.
Results. In areas characterized by wine production the traditional alcohol socialization process – according to which children are allowed or encouraged to taste wine at home with parents – is more persistent. In these areas the traditional drinking culture has been valued, but also renewed, by improving the quality of wine production, and emphasizing the importance of proper and competent drinking. The alcohol socialization process and the emphasis on wine as a cultural product which needs knowledge and competences seem to be the most relevant protective factors, contributing to lower the alcohol consumption and counteracting the widespread of at risk alcohol consumption patterns.
Conclusions. If the Italian drinking culture has usually been regarded as rather homogenous, the present study reveals rather important differences between wine-producing and non-wine-producing areas. This makes even more evident the need of differentiating policies at European level, to keep into consideration local peculiarities and promote ad hoc measures. Perhaps it is the time to consider the creation of an observatory on the Mediterranean drinking culture.
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