Date of Award

Fall 1985

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This study examines the relation between status integration and alcohol problems in the United States. The study also tests the sociological hypothesis that the level of alcoholism in groups is a function of the extent to which those groups are characterized by norms which encourage or allow drinking and intoxication as means relieving stress. Measures of status integration (MSI's) are intended as group level indicators of role conflict and indicators of chronic stressful conditions.

The theory of status integration is tested by analyzing the relation of the MSI to alcohol outcomes for the fifty American states through zero-order and partial correlations. To examine the interactive effects of stress and alcohol norms, the fifty states are broken down into quartiles according to their position on an index of alcohol norm content. The index is comprised of four items indicating anti-alcohol sentiments and the level of restrictiveness on the sale and consumption of alcohol for each state. Correlations of the MSI with indicators of alcohol problems are then replicated for each of the quartiles.

Multiple indicators of drinking problems are employed in this study including measures of heavy drinking (apparent consumption per capita and cirrhosis deaths per 100,000) and arrest rates for alcohol related offenses.

The findings for the fifty states reveal a strong inverse relationship between the level of status integration and heavy drinking. No significant relationship appears between the MSI and alcohol related arrest rates. Tests of the interactive effect of status integration and alcohol norms on drinking problems reveal that: (1) there is a strong inverse relationship between status integration and heavy drinking in permissive but not in proscriptive (i.e., anti-alcohol) states; and (2) there is a strong inverse relationship between status integration and alcohol arrests in proscriptive but not in permissive states. It is suggested that these findings indicate: (1) that members of communities respond to stress in ways that are acceptable to the community; and (2) that agents of social control respond to stress by reinforcing and reemphasizing community values.