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Author Sonnenstuhl, William J., 1946-

Title Working sober : the transformation of an occupational drinking culture / William J. Sonnenstuhl
Published Ithaca, N.Y. : ILR, 1996
Online access available from:
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Description 1 online resource (xiv, 143 pages)
Contents 1. Drinking and Work -- 2. Understanding the Persistence and Transformation of Intemperate Drinking Cultures -- 3. The Sandhogs: From Occupational Identity to Community -- 4. Sandhogging and Intemperate Drinking -- 5. Transforming the Sandhog Drinking Culture -- 6. From Occupational Intemperance to Temperance: Reconstructing Occupational Community
Summary In recent years, sandhogs have transformed their culture, supporting each other in sobriety through their own alcoholism program, in which the union served as a crucial agent of change. For these workers, drinking on the job has virtually disappeared. On the basis of their experience, Sonnenstuhl advocates a paradigm of cultural transformation to supplement the medical model of curing addicted individuals
Sonnenstuhl surveys drinking patterns in specific occupations, including construction, the military, railroading, and journalism, asking why such patterns have resisted efforts by both management and labor to curtail drinking from colonial times to the present. He documents the experience of workers who build tunnels and underground systems in New York City, in an occupation that traditionally encouraged its members to drink together both on the job and off. Known as sandhogs, they do strenuous, dirty work deep underground, where one worker dies for every mile of tunnel dug. In conversations with Sonnenstuhl, the sandhogs explain how they drank to sustain their courage, to show their camaraderie, and to celebrate their survival
Americans assume that workers do not drink on the job and that, if they do, it is because they suffer from alcoholism rather than because they are conforming to occupational expectations. William J. Sonnenstuhl disagrees. He contends that some occupational cultures encourage heavy drinking. Moreover, his research suggests that the sense of community which motivates drinking can also sometimes inspire workers to break the pattern and work sober
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references (pages 123-135) and index
Notes Print version record
Subject Alcoholism and employment -- United States -- Case studies.
Drinking of alcoholic beverages -- Social aspects -- United States -- Case studies.
Group identity -- United States -- Case studies.
Sandhogs -- Alcohol use -- Social aspects -- United States -- Case studies.
Alcoholism -- history.
Social Identification -- history
Social Problems -- history.
Genre/Form Case studies.
Case studies.
Form Electronic book
ISBN 1501711210 (electronic bk.)
9781501711213 (electronic bk.)