AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

Alcohol in society and education : Durkheimian perspectives

by Stuart Mundy-McPherson

Institution: University of Otago
Year: 0
Record ID: 1300278
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/5436


The present study utilises a Durkheimian approach to study alcohol in society and education, centrally drawing on the sociological works of Emile Durkheim and those of the neo-Durkheimian sociologist, Stjepan Mestrovic. Durkheim's sociological concepts and commentary, and Mestrovic's perspective, refashioned, is applied to the present context, of which alcohol is a part. The argument to be advanced, is that in the Durkheimian sense, societal and educational alcohol issues, as part of wider social change, are in a state of excessive anomie and egoism caused by neoliberal philosophy, policy and practice. Mostly, the theory of James M. Buchanan will be drawn upon as standing for neoliberalism. Mestrovic's interpretation of Durkheim in the light of his view of the indirect influence of Arthur Schopenhauer on Durkheim, particularly with regard to Schopenhauer's view of will and representation, provides a fresh reading of Durkheim's work. Mestrovic's adaptations challenge the received view of Durkheim as a functionalist, and Enlightenment positivist interested in social order. This is explained by noting Mestrovic's application of those adaptations to some of Durkheim's central concepts, and, Mestrovic's identification of the contemporary relevance of Durkheim, culminating in what Mestrovic calls postemotionalism. Mestrovic's Shopenhauerian Durkheimianism, and Durkheim, can be critiqued from the perspectives of a number of commentators, poststructuralism and, Jennifer Lehmann's critical structuralism with regard to issues of particularly gender, but also culture, as well as for exhibiting essentialist and liberal strains. Buchanan is also liberal and essentialist, but differently to Durkheim, holds to an economic, individualistic and clearly positivist view of society and education. By comparison with Durkheimianism, however, Buchanan's perspective is a good representative example of true neoliberalism. Durkheim in particular, is rendered as a liberal- by comparison to Buchanan, a very social democratic liberal thinker, but one still in need of further adaptations over and above those made by Mestrovic for a Durkheimianism relevant to contemporary issues of gender and culture with regard to policy and practice in society and education where alcohol is concerned. Mestrovic's perspective and Durkheim's concepts, when modified by way of discussed and synthesised supplementary, high-modern and poststructural, post Freudian feminist, and semiological, radical theories of gender and culture, is relevant for studying society and education. The application of Durkheimian perspectives, so rendered, means that various issues related to alcohol such as, alcohol and other addictions and dysfunctions, gendered drinking, gendered family relations, alcohol use and abuse, media advertising, research studies philosophies, culture, local and global markets, as well as legislation, can be seen in an alternative way. Following Durkheimian perspectives means that education can be contextualised accordingly. Educational…