The Inflammable Alcohol Issue: Alcohol Policy Argumentation in the Programs of Political Parties in Finland, Norway and Sweden from the 1960s to the 1990s

By Anttila, Anu-Hanna; Sulkunen, Pekka | Contemporary Drug Problems, Spring 2001 | Go to article overview

The Inflammable Alcohol Issue: Alcohol Policy Argumentation in the Programs of Political Parties in Finland, Norway and Sweden from the 1960s to the 1990s


Anttila, Anu-Hanna, Sulkunen, Pekka, Contemporary Drug Problems


In Finland, Norway and Sweden the alcohol policy positions of political parties have been related to party ideologies in complex ways. Until the 1950s, Nordic parties had brought up temperance argumentation. The consensus was enhanced by the radicalism of the 1960s. Improved alcohol availability was argued for across the political map; the dividing factor was generation. Regional, cultural and religious differences, but not political ideology, were important. Because the liberal arguments in the political arena were aimed at civilizing drinking patterns, they belonged to the tradition of political rather than market liberalism. It was only at the outset of the "backlash" period, around 1974, that the alcohol issue was "politicized" according to party ideologies. The parties shifted from the traditional temperance argument toward a more goal-oriented attention to the consequences of drinking, rather than drinking itself. Nowadays the difference in attitudes toward market liberalism has had an increasing impact on the Nordic parties' alcohol policies.

KEY WORDS: Alcohol policy, Nordic countries, political parties, argumentation, liberalization, market liberalism.

Alcohol policy has been an exceptionally political issue in the Nordic countries ever since the temperance ideology came to Northern Europe from England and North America in the mid-19th century. In Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland, where societal responses to the "alcohol question" have traditionally involved state interference with the alcoholic beverage market, alcohol policy has been prominently a legal matter. Political action in the national parliaments has played a key role in determining, sometimes in very great detail, how alcohol has been available and in what way its use is regulated.

One could expect, therefore, that the alcohol policy positions of political parties would follow closely their overall ideological lines at least in three respects. First, the very relationship between the market and the state has been one of the most important divisions in political ideology. A second, related issue has been the borderline between citizens' rights and equality before the law on the one hand and, on the other hand, the state's responsibility to maintain law and order and to safeguard individuals and families against risks, especially those privately taken such as drinking problems. Third, attitudes toward moral issues such as alcohol and sexuality, often related to religion, have been important, too, in the ideological images of political parties. However, political parties have acted in the alcohol arena in ways that are not unambiguously related to their general party ideologies. The history of the temperance movement, the role of nationalism, and the political role of the socialist labor movement, among other things, have influenced the ways in which alcohol issues have been handled in the political process-sometimes in quite unpredictable ways.

This article analyzes the actions and views of the political parties as regards the social issue of alcohol, in order to shed historical and comparative light on policy-making in the alcohol policy arena in Norway, Sweden and Finland. Our analysis aims particularly at gaining a deeper understanding of the current wave of alcohol policy liberalism. It has been argued that "politics is dead," at least from the party ideological point of view. Our view, however, is that the relationship between overall party ideology and alcohol policy attitudes in the political process has become, if not stronger, at least simpler and more straightforward than it was before the onset of the current wave of liberalization in the 1980s.

The main research material used in this article is composed of the programs* of Nordic parties. Programs can be analyzed basically in two ways (Aarnio, 1998). On one hand, they are the basic documents that direct the politics of the political party. On another hand, they can be read as an independent action, in which case they form their own literary genre. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Inflammable Alcohol Issue: Alcohol Policy Argumentation in the Programs of Political Parties in Finland, Norway and Sweden from the 1960s to the 1990s
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.