May 11, 2010

Bethel Drinking

In Rhonda McBride’s May 2010 article “Children dying for a drink: A Young Start to Links of Suicide,” alcohol use by youths in Bethel is being highlighted due to the vote in progress restricting alcohol in Bethel, Alaska. Alcohol in Bethel has traditionally been restricted over the previous decade, but in November the restriction was repealed. It now looks as if the city might be re-implementing the decade long restriction. The results of the vote are expected May 11, 2010.
Rhonda McBride’s KTUU Channel 2 News article describes how youth in Bethel often start drinking at ages that might be rather unprecedented. The article explains the situation from Bethel emergency room director Matt Greenberg’s personal experiences. Alcohol has historically been a rampant social problem in Alaska. The irresponsible use of alcohol often can be linked to bigger problems underlying a community with high alcohol related problems. Social forces often can be an indicator and can lead to potential solutions.
Using the sociological conflict perspective I analyze the issues of culture clash between capitalist ‘greater America’ culture and that of traditional Native Alaskan culture. Values are in conflict and have grown incompatible between the two cultural perspectives. I believe this puts pressure on Native Alaskan’s and the political process that implement policy and regulation in the region. This cultural squeezing can create a malaise in a community and in that of the individual.

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