Comparing 2 Bars by Social Class’ Representatives Completed by University of This paper compares – analyzing the gender and age differences – two bars in Hong Kong in which the participants differ by social class (studying working class and upper class of the city’s citizens). To begin with, the Hong Kong miracle is an authentic experience to some social classes, and a source of identity and pride for most Hong Kong people. However, this brand of Hong Kong identity has acquired a hegemonic character and become alien to the experiences of some other groups of the segmented population. It is interesting to note that when specific questions are asked, those respondents who believe Hong Kong is a land of opportunities also recognize the harsh reality in their personal life (Clapper, Goldfield, Lipsett, and Tsuang 1995). They have a subjective sense of upward mobility but also a realistic experience of actual personal limitations. Hong Kong's culture of affluence is reminiscent of the ideology of opportunities and Hong Kong's prevalent culture of survival is also a reaction against the harsh reality of individual struggle. The popular media portrait of the ideal Hong Kong Man as smart, upwardly mobile, competitive, hard-working, and entrepreneurial obviously excludes a considerable number of Hong Kong people. There is a staggering degree of income inequality in Hong Kong in all its sectors. While the average citizen enjoys the third-highest living standard in Asia, many still live without running water or legal electricity (Giddens 2003). In most societies, such levels of inequality generate class conflict and industrial hostilities. However, when industry, trade, and commerce are prosperous and the labor market is active, the wages of workers in Hong Kong are still much better than those of their counterparts on the mainland. Except for the sporadic unrest in 1956, 1967, and 1984, the territory has been stable, with little overt social conflict since the end of World War II (Clapper et al. 1995). There are also signs indicating the emergence of a politically conscious middle class that is beginning to play a more active role in organizing itself in community political affairs. We now turn to discussing the gender and age differences that exist between the visitors of the two bars in Hong Kong. The following examination is not based on two particular bars, it is rather a combination of general references about the atmosphere and settings prevalent in the bars attended by each the two social classes in question: working and upper class. It is important to note that gender and age differences do exist in both bars in terms of drinking behavior: drinking levels, meanings attached to alcohol use, and first drinking experiences, although they are less pronounced in Hong Kong’ upper class bars (Prescott and Kendler 1995). Among the working class bar’s visitors, males are more likely than females to drink frequently, and they usually drink in higher quantities.

Using the usual blood-alcohol concentration achieved during a drinking episode as the measure, males in the working class bar sample usually achieved a blood-alcohol concentration of .115% while females drink to a level of .077% (Clapper et al. 1995). These figures reflect the fact that a significant number of visitors in the working class bar, both males and females, reported that they drink in order to get drunk. On average, males reported 9.31 intoxications experienced in the past year, while females reported 6.15. In upper class bar, the picture is different. Males and females tended to drink similarly, both in terms of frequency and quantity. Moderate drinking is the rule for both genders in that they usually achieve a .02% blood-alcohol (Prescott and Kendler 1995). concentration when they drink. Males and females in Hong Kong upper class bar also define alcohol use similarly. Each gender defines moderate drinking as a little more than one drink; while four drinks are regarded as constituting heavy drinking and/or intoxication. Converting these numbers into blood-alcohol concentrations, females in the sample would achieve much higher blood-alcohol concentrations than their male counterparts if they drank to the levels defined. Because of their smaller physical size, female Chinese would experience serious motor skill impairment if they drank to the level of heavy drinking. Among the working class bar’s visitors, males define levels of heavy drinking and intoxication as including at least two more drinks than did the females. However, after adjusting for physiological differences between the genders, males and females in the working class bar would achieve similar blood-alcohol concentrations, if they drank according to their definitions. The blood-alcohol concentrations they would achieve would be high enough to impair motor and judgmental skills. The factors related to the time of the first drinking experience show age and gender differences between both bars. Working class bar’s male visitors typically take their first drink a little earlier than working class females (13.35 vs. 14.35 years). They are also more likely than females to have been served their first drink by a parent. Working class females are more likely than males to be introduced to alcohol in a home situation, or with parental knowledge of the first drinking experience (Prescott and Kendler 1995). Males in the working class bar drink a little more than their female counterparts, on average, and are more likely to have gotten drunk during their first drinking experience. Among the Hong Kong upper class bar’s visitors, females are more likely than males to be introduced to alcohol by their parents in a home situation.

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Upper class bar’s visitors males might take their first drink as early as girls did, but more of these male visitors report that there was parental knowledge of their first drinking experience. Males and females alike consumed about one drink during their first drinking experience, but females, more often than males, claim that they became intoxicated with that first drink (Clapper et al. 1995). In order to determine whether socio-cultural factors and definitions of alcohol use are associated in any important way with current drinking levels we analyzed these issues in the following paragraphs. Working class bar’s youth, as in other studies, are more likely to drink at higher levels (as measured by all dependent variables) when they were introduced to alcohol early in life. Parental knowledge of the first drink, however, seems to discourage them from drinking often and in high quantities. Getting intoxicated during the first drinking episode indicates a current higher drinking level (in terms of blood-alcohol concentration achieved in typical settings). Definitions of heavy drinking and number of drinks required to become drunk are associated with the respondents' blood-alcohol concentration and quantity of alcohol consumed (Prescott and Kendler 1995). The respondent's frequency of alcohol consumption experienced in the past year is positively related to how many drinks they believe would make them drunk. Number of drinks the working class bar’s visitors need to get drunk is also an indicator of number of intoxications they experienced. Among the working class bar, the regressions unexpectedly shows an association between taking the first drink at home, and a higher number of intoxications in the year prior to the interviews (Clapper et al. 1995). Working class bar’s male-visitors consume higher quantities of alcohol in a typical drinking sitting if they define heavy drinking as a higher number of drinks and believe that relatively more drinks are needed to make them drunk. The blood-alcohol concentrations calculated from the definition of heavy drinking and number of drinks needed to get drunk are positively related to typical blood-alcohol concentrations achieved by working class males. A higher quantity of alcohol as well as blood-alcohol concentration are achieved among these males if they started drinking early in life. Parental knowledge of the first drinking experience, however, helps to decrease quantity of alcohol consumed in the year prior to the interview for these males. In addition, getting drunk during the first drinking experience is linked statistically to higher-quantity alcohol consumption and higher blood-alcohol concentrations among males. The situation is different for females, although, like the males, there is a positive association between the number of drinks believed necessary for intoxication and quantity of alcohol consumed.

Females, however, consciously seek to be moderate drinkers. Therefore, their definitions of a moderate level of drinking has a strong effect on the quantity they usually consume. The usual blood-alcohol concentration for females in the working class bar, however, reflects the three definitions (transformed into blood-alcohol concentrations) and onset age of drinking (Clapper et al. 1995). The number of drinks defining moderate and heavy drinking and the number believed needed for intoxication are closely associated with these females' usual blood-alcohol concentration. The younger the girls when they started using alcohol, the more likely they are to currently drink in order to achieve high blood-alcohol concentrations. The manner in which Hong Kong upper class bar’s visitors define moderate drinking is closely related to the quantity of alcohol they consume, their usual blood-alcohol concentration, and the number of intoxications that they experienced in the past year (Clapper, Goldfield, Lipsett, and Tsuang 1995). High estimation of alcohol tolerance leads to high quantity of alcohol consumed during typical drinking sittings, and to an increased frequency of alcohol consumption. Definition of heavy drinking, however, has an insignificant effect on most of the drinking-level indicators. A high number of drinks that define heavy drinking is unexpectedly related to a lower number of drinks consumed during a typical drinking sitting. Socio-cultural factors of the first drinking experience are not significant predictors of current drinking behavior among the upper class visitors with a few exceptions. The younger their age at the time of the first drink, the more likely they are to consume alcohol on a regular basis. The number of drinks consumed during the first drinking experience is also positively related to frequency of alcohol consumed. Becoming drunk during the first drinking experience is a predictor of a higher number of intoxications in the year before the interviews. Interestingly, those teenagers who took their first drink at home are more likely to achieve higher blood-alcohol concentrations during usual drinking sittings. Among the Hong Kong teenagers, gender is not a factor affecting drinking-level indicators. Variation in drinking levels between upper and working class bars’ representatives is thought to relate to differential normative structures governing the two cultures. A limited number of studies conducted in the past supports this hypothesis. However, there is a lack of research exploring why and how cultural elements influence drinking behavior among teenagers in Hong Kong. In the present paper, we hypothesized that cultural elements are reflected in socio-cultural factors associated with the introduction of alcohol to people. These socio-cultural factors, in turn, affect these young people's definitions of alcohol use and drinking levels.

We argued that the different norms and values held by the two different groups generate different social processes leading to differential drinking levels among adolescents in the two cultures. Our findings clearly show that working class bar’s visitors are more likely than upper class ones to drink and to achieve higher drinking levels no matter which indicator is used. A higher number of drinks is also assigned by American teenagers to their definitions of moderate and heavy drinking, and the number of drinks required to become intoxicated. What drinking means to individuals should affect their alcohol-use patterns, so it is not surprising that the working class bar’s representatives are heavier drinkers than the upper class ones. In general, working class bar’s visitors, especially males, are more affected than upper class ones by how they defined heavy drinking and the number of drinks that they required to become intoxicated; whereas, the definition of moderate drinking is most influential among upper class bar’s adolescents. The value placed on moderation in all behaviors may be the principle that partially explains the drinking patterns of upper class bar’s visitors. Drinking to become intoxicated or being a heavy drinker are images that, while they may appeal to many working class representatives, are largely unthinkable for this group of upper class bar’s visitors.

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