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Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has an estimated worldwide membership of two million. This collaborative study offers the first comprehensive look at AA as a social movement, a belief system, a model for small group interactions, and a truly international phenomenon. The international success of AA is evidence that a system of thought and a program of action developed in middle-class North America in the 1930s can be adapted and made relevant in cultural environments as diverse as the slums of Mexico City, the factory towns of Poland, and the farm villages of Switzerland.
The authors look at what actually happens in an AA meeting, how members interact, and how the AA model fits into widely varying cultural traditions. The book includes the early history of AA and its organizational principles, its international growth, and its present structure, finances, and membership. The chapters pay particular attention to the relationships of belief and action in AA, the role of written and oral tradition in the transmission of the beliefs, and cultural variations in the content of the belief system. Because AA is a mutual-help movement, the authors contrast it with professional health care of various kinds, including 12-step programs, and compare it with alternative mutual-aid organizations.
The book draws on an abundance of data, including surveys, observation, in-depth talks with members, and a wealth of unpublished documents pertaining to AA in Austria, Finland, Iceland, Mexico, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. The authors analyze AA’s organizational guidelines as an innovative code of principles for non-hierarchic and non-bureaucratic social structures, and suggest that AA is the prototype for an emerging social form.
The book contains no figures.
|2||The place of AA among social movements||8|
|3||The early years of AA in the United States and Canada||19|
|4||The international diffusion and structure of AA||25|
|5||Organizational principles of AA||43|
|6||The local structure of AA and AA as a social network||52|
|7||Regional and national service structure||73|
|8||The finances of AA||85|
|9||The membership of AA||96|
|10||The AA program as a set of beliefs and as a program for action||117|
|11||The AA meeting as a speech event||133|
|12||Practicing the AA program||153|
|13||Men, women, and AA||170|
|14||AA and the professional treatment system||185|
|15||AA and other mutual-help movements for alcohol problems||207|
|16||Diffusion of the 12-step program to problems other than alcohol||216|
|17||The AA movement in perspective||239|
|18||Implications for professional practice and research programming||253|
|Appendix A. Organization and methods of work of the International Collaborative Study of Alcoholics Anonymous (ICSAA)||259|
|Appendix B. Collection of interviews, observations, life stories, and other qualitative data||261|
|Appendix C. Group, meeting, and membership surveys||267|
|Appendix D. Basic AA Texts||274|
|Index of Personal Names||298|