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Summary

The connections between sociocultural factors and alcohol dependence may be approached in several ways. Sociocultural factors can be treated as predictors and correlates extrinsic to dependence, viewed as a disease entity. The concept of dependence can be reexamined in terms of its presumed ‘seating’- in the individual's psyche or body - and expanded to include the possibility of seating at supraindividual sociocultural levels. And the idea of dependence can be reinterpreted as ‘culture-bound’, that is, as depending for its existence and meaningfulness on sociocultural characteristics specific to particular times and places. The paper focuses on the latter two approaches, with particular attention to the development of sociological ‘constructionist’ thinking that views the concept and experiential reality of addiction or dependence as a product of particular cultural conditions rather than as a transcultural universal.