The Italian “alcohol question” from 1860 to 1930: Two opposing scientific interpretations

  • Enrico Petrilli Eclectica – Institute for Training and Research
  • Franca Beccaria Eclectica – Institute for Training and Research
Keywords: alcoholism, alcohol history, Legal Socialism, Positive School of Criminology, Italy

Abstract

Petrilli, E., & Beccaria, F. (2015). The Italian “alcohol question” from 1860 to 1930: Two opposing scientific interpretations. The International Journal Of Alcohol And Drug Research, 4(1), 37-43. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.7895/ijadr.v4i1.193

Background: In recent years, English-speaking and Northern European alcohol researchers have turned a historical gaze towards their subject, and in particular have explored how a medical view attempted to describe and explain phenomena such as alcohol abuse and addiction. Although there was a heated and prolific debate in Italy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there are few historical studies of the first scholars’ thoughts on alcohol-related problems.


Aims: The article depicts how the Italian scientific community interpreted and explained alcohol-related concerns following the emergence of the alcohol issue in the late 19th century. Specifically, the stances of the two main groups of scientists who dealt with the issue, the Positive School of Criminology and Legal Socialism, are examined.


Method: The article is based on the materials collected by the Italian research group during a comparative study carried out as part of the ALICE RAP project. More than 40 books and five scientific journals were consulted.


Results: Medical-related concerns were never predominant in the late 19th-century Italian debate on the alcohol question, but were addressed in the broader discussion of criminality, where positivists’ and legal socialists’ perspectives both focused mainly on social consequences, albeit with differing interpretations of causalities and remedies.

Author Biographies

Enrico Petrilli, Eclectica – Institute for Training and Research

Eclectica – Institute for Training and Research – Torino, Italy

Franca Beccaria, Eclectica – Institute for Training and Research
Eclectica – Institute for Training and Research – Torino, Italy
Published
2015-06-22
How to Cite
Petrilli, E., & Beccaria, F. (2015). The Italian “alcohol question” from 1860 to 1930: Two opposing scientific interpretations. The International Journal of Alcohol and Drug Research, 4(1), 37-43. https://doi.org/10.7895/ijadr.v4i1.193
Section
Papers