1 Mar 2015

Culture 'to blame for alcohol-related violence'

4:56 pm on 1 March 2015

A British anthropologist says alcohol-related violence in New Zealand is not caused by drunkenness but by the country's macho culture of violence and antisocial behaviour.

Anne Fox, who studies drinking cultures around the world, has published a report on machismo attitudes in Australian and New Zealand.

She said the way people behaved when they were drunk was mostly derived from what their culture taught them.

Dr Fox said policymakers needed to focus on combating that mindset.

"When you blame alcohol for this what you're doing is you're taking the spotlight off the real cause which is violent people committing violent acts.

"And no one is actually looking at the perpetrators of this violence and trying to devise reasonable ways of preventing this, by blaming the alcohol we are simply giving them an excuse to commit further acts of violence."

Claims not credible

But Otago University's National Addiction Centre, director Doug Sellman said the claims that alcohol-related violence in New Zealand was caused by the country's macho culture and not drunkenness, were not credible.

Dr Sellman said Ms Fox had sponsorship from the alcohol industry.

He said the link between alcohol and violence had been proven.

"Alcohol appears to alter people's perception, people misinterpret facial cues on other people, for instance there's a set of studies that show misinterpretation of disgust and people misinterpret it as anger."

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