A Sociocultural History of Alcoholics Anonymous

  • Harrison M. Trice
  • William J. StaudenmeierJr.
Part of the Recent Developments in Alcoholism book series (RDIA, volume 7)


Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has not only helped numerous alcoholics, it has also influenced the current generation’s view of, and response to, the alcoholic. This chapter describes the emergence of AA and analyzes its successful growth. During the period of reduced alternatives for helping the alcoholic, AA began and soon flourished, helped by favorable publicity, committed members, and AA publications. We argue that its founder, Bill W., played a crucial role as a charismatic leader and that AA found a unique organizational solution to the problem of charismatic succession, a solution that helped AA maintain growth and stability beyond the life of its founder. This chapter also reviews the social response to AA including early research on AA, the generally favorable response to AA, criticism of AA, and the widespread imitation of AA by other problem area groups.


Alcoholic Anonymous Gambler Anonymous Popular Magazine Stud Alcohol Saturday Evening 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Trice HM: Alcoholics Anonymous. Ann Am Acad Pol Soc Sci 315: 108–116, January 1958.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    General Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous: World A.A. Directory: 1987. New York, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1987, p iii.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Levine HG: The discovery of addiction. J Stud Alcohol 39: 143–174, 1978.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Dorchester D: The Liquor Problem in All Ages. New York, Phillips and Hunt, 1884.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Tyrell IR: Sobering up, from temperance to prohibition in antebellum America, 1800–1860. Westport, CT, Greenwood Press, 1978.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Levine HG: The alcohol problem in America: From temperance to alcoholism. Br J Addictions 79: 109–119, 1984.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Daniels WE: The Temperance Reform and Its Great Reformers. New York, Nelson and Phillips, 1878.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Corner GW: The Autobiography of Benjamin Rush. Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 1948, p 355.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Woodward SB: Essays on Asylums for Inebriates. Worcester, MA, 1838.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Rypins S: Joseph Turner and the first inebriate asylum. Q J Stud Alcohol 10: 127–134, 1949.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Lender ME: Dictionary of American Temperance Biography. Westport, CT, Greenwood Press, 1984.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Crothers TD: 1891. Inebriate Asylums: The Cyclopedia of Temperance and Prohibition. New York, Funk and Wagnalls, 1891, pp 247–248.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Cherrington EH (eds): Inebriate Institutions. Standard Encyclopedia of the Alcohol Problem, Vol III. Westerville, OH, American Issue Publishing Company, 1925, pp 1313–1322.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Brown EM: English interest in the treatment of alcoholism in the United States during the early 1870s. Br J Addictions 81: 545–551, 1986.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Bradner NR: Report of the Committee on Nostrums, Proprietary Medicines, and New Drugs. Q J Inebriety 12: 36–37, 1890.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Morgan HW: Drugs in America: A Social History, 1800–1980. Syracuse, NY, Syracuse University Press, 1981.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Barclay GA: The Keeley League. J Ill State Historical Soc 57: 341–365, 1964.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Lender ME, Martin JK: Drinking in America. New York, Free Press, 1982.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Pittman W: Alternative Explanation for the Beginnings of Alcoholics Anonymous. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree summa cum laude in the Intercollege, University of Minnesota, 1983.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    WW: The Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. Lecture #29 in Alcohol, Science, and Society. New Haven, Yale University Press, 1944, pp 461-465.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    WW: 1949. The society of Alcoholics Anonymous. Am J Psychiatry 106: 370-376, 1949.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Kurtz E: Not God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous. Center City, MN, Hazelden Educational Services, 1979.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Leach B, Norris JL: Factors in the development of Alcoholics Anonymous. In Kissin B, Begleiter H (eds): Treatment and Rehabilitation of the Chronic Alcoholic. New York, Plenum Press, 1977, pp 441–543.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Anonymous: Alcoholics Anonymous. New York, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, 1939.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Maxwell MA: The Alcoholics Anonymous Experience. New York, McGraw-Hill, 1984.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Gellman IP: The Sober Alcoholic: An Organizational Analysis of Alcoholics Anonymous. New Haven, CT, College and University Press, 1964.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Russell AJ: For Sinners Only. London, Hodder and Stoughton, Ltd, 1932.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Leach B, Norris JL, Dancey T, et al: Dimensions of Alcoholics Anonymous: 1935–1965. Int J Addictions 4: 512, 1969.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Davis EB: Alcoholics Anonymous makes its stand here. The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Oct. 21, Oct. 23, Oct. 24, Oct. 25, Oct. 26, Nov. 2, and Nov. 4, 1939.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Markey M: Alcoholics and God. Liberty Magazine. September 30: 6–8, 1939.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Alexander J: Alcoholics Anonymous. The Saturday Evening Post 213: 9–12, March, 1941.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Trice HM, Schonbrunn M: A history of job-based alcoholism programs: 1900–1955. J Drug Issues 11(2), Spring 1981.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Stevenson R: Absenteeism in an industrial plant due to alcoholism. Q J Stud Alcohol 2: 661, 1942.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Fox J: Some implications of expansion in war industries. Q J Stud Alcohol 3: 646–649, 1944.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Trice HM, Roman PM: Sociological predictors of affiliation with Alcoholics Anonymous. Soc Psychiatry 5: 51–59, 1970.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Trice HM, Beyer JM: 1986. Charisma and its routinization in two movement organizations, in Staw BM, Cummings LL (eds): Research in Organizational Research, Vol. 8, 1986, pp 113-164.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Weber M: The Theory of Social and Economic Organization, Henderson AM, Parsons T (eds and trans). Glencoe, IL, Free Press, 1947.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Eisenstadt SN: Max Weber: On Charisma and Institution Building—Selected Papers. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1968.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Gerth H, Mills CW (eds): From Max Weber. New York, Oxford University Press, 1946.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Shils E: Charisma, in Sills D (ed): International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, Vol. 2. New York, Free Press, 1965, pp 386–390.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Shils E: Charisma, order and status. Am Sociol Rev 30: 199–213, 1965.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    House R: A 1976 theory of charismatic leadership, in Hunt JG, Larson LL (eds): Leadership: The Cutting Edge. Carbondale, IL, Southern Illinois University Press, 1977, p 193.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Freidrich CJ: Political leadership and the problem of charismatic power. J Pol 23: 3–24, 1961.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Berlew DE: Leadership and organizational excitement, in Kolb DA, Rubin IM, et al (eds): Organizational Psychology: A Book of Readings, 3rd edition. Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice-Hall, 1974, pp 343–356.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Schwartz B: George Washington and the Whig concept of heroic leadership. Am Sociol Rev 48: 18–33, 1983.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Anonymous: Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. New York, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, 1953.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Trice HM, Roman PM: Delabeling, relabeling, and Alcoholics Anonymous. Soc Problems 17: 538–546, 1970.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Pondy LR: The other hand clapping: An information processing approach to organizational power, in Hammer TH, Bacharach SB (eds): Reward Systems and Power Distribution. Ithaca, NY, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University, 1977, pp 56–91.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Bales RF: The therapeutic role of Alcoholics Anonymous as seen by a sociologist, in Pittman, D, Snyder, CR (eds): Society, Culture and Drinking Patterns. New York, Wiley, 1962, p 572.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Zald MN, Ash R: Social movement organizations: Growth, decay and change. Soc Forces 44: 338, 1966.Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Maxwell MA: Alcoholics Anonymous, in Gomberg EL, White HR (eds): Alcohol, Science, and Society Revisited. Ann Arbor, MI, University of Michigan and Rutgers University Center of Alcohol Studies, 1982, p 296.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    McCarthy RG: Group therapy in an outpatient clinic for treatment of alcoholics. Q J Stud Alcohol 7: 98–109, 1946.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Jellinek EM: Phases in drinking history of alcoholics. Q J Stud Alcohol 7: 69, 1946.Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Ritchie OW: A sociohistorical survey of Alcoholics Anonymous. Q J Stud Alcohol 9: 154, 1948.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Brown MA: Alcoholic profiles on the Minnesota Multiphasic. J Clin Psychol 6: 266, 1950.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Maxwell M: Social factors in Alcoholics Anonymous. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Texas, 1949.Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Slight D: Alcoholism and Alcohol Addiction. Proceedings of the 2nd Annual Conference on Alcohol Studies, University of Wisconsin Extension Division, mimeographed copy, 1949.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Jackson J, Connor R: The skid-road alcoholic. Q J Stud Alcohol 14: 468–485, 1953.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Murphy MM: Social class differences in the responsiveness to the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Chicago, 1952.Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    Clinard MB: The group approach to social reintegration. Am Sociol Rev 14(2): 257–262, 1949.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. 61.
    Madsen W: Alcoholics Anonymous as a crisis cult, in MacMarshall, M (ed): Beliefs, Behaviors and Alcoholic Beverages. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 1979, pp 382–388.Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Trice HM: A study of the process of affiliation with Alcoholics Anonymous. Q J Stud Alcohol 18: 39–54, 1957.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. 63.
    Trice H: The affiliative motive and readiness to join Alcoholics Anonymous. Q J Stud Alcohol 20: 313–321, 1959.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  64. 64.
    Hanfmann E: The life of an ex-alcoholic. Q J Stud Alcohol 12: 405–443, 1953.Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    Bean M: Alcoholics Anonymous II. Psychiatr Ann 5: 7–57, 1975.Google Scholar
  66. 66.
    Leach B: Does Alcoholics Anonymous really work?, in Bourne PG, Fox R (eds): Alcoholism: Progress in Research and Treatment. New York, Academic Press, 1973.Google Scholar
  67. 67.
    Emrick CD, Lassen CL, Edwards MT: Nonprofessional peers as therapeutic agents, in Gurman AS, Razin AM (eds): Effective Psychotherapy: A Handbook of Research, New York, Pergamon Press, 1977.Google Scholar
  68. 68.
    Rudy DR: Becoming Alcoholics: Alcoholics Anonymous and the Reality of Alcoholism. Carbondale, Southern Illinois University Press, 1986.Google Scholar
  69. 69.
    Jellinek EM: A thought from an old friend, in A.A. Today: A Special Grapevine Publication. New York, The A.A. Grapevine, 1960, p 41.Google Scholar
  70. 70.
    Menninger Karl: An A.A. apraisal, in A.A. Today: A Special Grapevine Publication. New York, The A.A. Grapevine, 1960, pp 14–16.Google Scholar
  71. 71.
    Trice HM: Evaluation of Alcoholics Anonymous. Proceedings of the 8th Southeastern School of Alcohol Studies. Athens, Georgia, Center for Continuing Education, University of Georgia, 1968.Google Scholar
  72. 72.
    Cain AH: Alcoholics Anonymous: Cult or cure? Harpers Magazine 226: 48–52, February 1963.Google Scholar
  73. 73.
    Sagarin E: Odd Man In. Chicago, Quadrangle Books, 1969, p 45.Google Scholar
  74. 74.
    Queenan J: Too late to say “I’m sorry.” Newsweek, August 3–7, 1987, p 3.Google Scholar
  75. 75.
    Ashery RS: Self-help groups serving drug abusers, in Brown B (ed): Addicts and Aftercare. Beverly Hills, Sage, pp 135–154.Google Scholar
  76. 76.
    Ellison J: These drugs addicts cure one another. Saturday Evening Post 277: 22–23, 48-52, 1954.Google Scholar
  77. 77.
    Peyrot M: Narcotics Anonymous: Its history, structure, and approach. Int J Addictions 20: 1509–1522, 1985.Google Scholar
  78. 78.
    Todres R: Self-help groups: An Annotated bibliography 1970–1982. New York, National Self-help Clearinghouse, Graduate School, University Center of the City University of New York, 1983.Google Scholar
  79. 79.
    Mowrer OH: The New Group Therapy. Princeton, NJ, Van Nostrand, 1964.Google Scholar
  80. 80.
    WL: Lois Remembers. New York, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, 1979.Google Scholar
  81. 81.
    Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters. First Steps: Al-Anon... 35 Years of Beginnings. New York, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, 1986.Google Scholar
  82. 82.
    Cutter C, Cutter H: Experience and change in Al-Anon family groups: Adult children of alcoholics. J Stud Alcohol 48: 29–33, 1987.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  83. 83.
    Huppert S: The role of Al-Anon groups in the treatment program of a V.A. alcoholism unit. Hosp Commun Psychiatry 27: 693, 697, 1976.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harrison M. Trice
    • 1
  • William J. StaudenmeierJr.
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Organizational Behavior, New York State School of Industrial and Labor RelationsCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Social Sciences DivisionEureka CollegeEurekaUSA

Personalised recommendations