The long term objective of this study is to explain how systems of social control in the workplace formulate, sustain, and enforce work-related drinking norms and practices. It represents an opportune extension of a current study that explicates elements of social control that support permissive drinking norms among workers in large assembly plant with an organizational culture that is traditional to the United States Industries. It will apply variables from that study to examination of a worksite that performs similar work tasks, but with an organizational culture traditional to Japanese Industries, and reportedly with few alcohol problems. The study takes into account the special circumstances and characteristics of this work culture.
The specific aim i s to identify and describe processes of social control that apparently do not support permissive drinking norms. This goal will be summarized by applying a conceptual model posting the social control in the workplace comprises four interacting elements: (1) company and union ideology, (2) organizational structure of workers, (3) alcohol-related policies and procedures, (4) key roles responsible for handling alcohol problems. As elements of a dynamic system of social control, each of these research objectives are examined individually, an in their reciprocal relationship to one another. Individual characteristics (age, gender, ethnicity, and alcohol consumption level) of the employee population will be considered for their moderating effect on the workplace drinking practices. The research design calls for a 5-year study using multiple methods and research stages including: (1) on-site ethnographic interviews and observations to assess research objectives, (2) epidemiological analysis of archival records to assess alcohol-related problems, and (3) survey interviews of 750 employees to assess research objectives, including drinking practices. This project will provide empirical understandings of specific elements of the workplace that influence drinking norms of the employee population. On a broad public level, it has practical implications for large unionized industries, as well as smaller work environments, who are looking for guidance in environmental approaches to prevention of alcohol and drug problems.
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