USP Theses Collection


close this section of the library Jones, Edwin C. F.

View the PDF document Fijian masculinity and alcohol use : an ethnographic study of male drinkers living in Qauia settlement
Author:Jones, Edwin C. F.
Institution: University of the South Pacific.
Award: M.A.
Date: 2009.
Call No.: Pac HV 5199 .F5 J66 2009
BRN: 1178089
Copyright:Under 10% of this thesis may be copied without the authors written permission

Abstract: Alcohol use is relatively new to Fiji but is held responsible for a variety of social problems. In this deeply religious multiethnic society, current Fijian discourse about alcohol emphasises the negative impact of drinking – particularly on working-class Fijian men – and its opposition to the ’way of the land’. This thesis discusses Fijian masculinity and alcohol use by male drinkers from a social anthropological perspective, using ethnographic research conducted in the peri-urban settlement of Qauia and the nightclubs of Suva. In Qauia, hierarchically structured social relations are most notably reiterated during the ritualised drinking of yaqona (kava), where differences in relative status are materialised in the sequence of drinking and spatial orientation of those present. Masculinity must be understood within the context of the power relations constituting this gendered hierarchy. Unlike yaqona, alcohol use occupies a marginal place in Qauia and is largely confined to episodic male drinking sessions. The purchase of alcohol for a group potentially subverts existing hierarchies through the sequence of drinking, emphasising a masculine power based on wealth and provision rather than ascribed birth status or age. Drinking alcohol also signals a ‘time-out’ from normal rules and provides an excuse for culturally inappropriate behaviours linked to the assertion of male power. Masculinity continues to be informed by hegemonic gender relations in Fijian nightclubs, where alcohol intoxication and hypermasculine performances of interpersonal power are normalised. Drawing on recent developments within the sociology of masculinity I suggest that alcohol use and forms of alcohol-related behaviour potentially serve as compensatory masculine performances for young working-class men in Qauia, who are structurally subordinated in their home lives and in waged employment, and therefore limited in their ability to demonstrate an interpersonal power that is central to traditional definitions of Fijian masculinity.
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