BARS: A SOCIAL PHENOMENON
By: Stephanie Allen, Scot Chappel, Amy Gangloff, & Michele Scott


If this picture is blurry to you, you must be drunk


    For many students at Miami University, bars are considered the hot spots to meet with each other on the weekends.  They talk about a number of scholarly and entertaining subjects with one another, or peruse the crowd looking for that special guy or gal through non-verbal expressions, such as a wink or a smile.  These types of actions do not vary from bar to bar around the world.  Bars and taverns have been in existence for a number of centuries, since Greek and Roman times.  Natalie Allon and Diane Fishel (1979) defined a drinking house or tavern as a social place where everyone posses the chance to buy an alcoholic drink, compared to some bars of private clubs where select people have this chance (Clinard, 1968, p. 402).  Colonial America used these taverns as post offices, boards of trade, job markets, etc. (Allon and Fishel  128).  Many of these same purposes are used in bars to this day.  Companies looking for new employees to come work for them often hold some form of an ‘Open House,’ where they mingle with prospects and describe the positions in detail, at bars and taverns.
When the Industrial Revolution began, these taverns converted into saloons, where mainly men drank.  Special family entrances were created to support the restaurant portion of each saloon.  Many of these saloons were places for men to relax after work, they could also gamble, behave in a drunken manner, and indulge in sexual matters (Allon and Fishel  128).  When Prohibition was passed, these saloons turned into the local “speakeasy,” where only certain members of the community were allowed to take part in the activities that happened there.  Once Prohibition was repealed, the bars of today were created.  Allon and Fishel go on to describe the different types of bars.  Convenience bars were considered those bars that are on the way of coming from or going to another activity of some kind.  Night spots have acts or musical performances that are planned for the patrons.  Marketplace bars are places where goods and services are exchanged, i.e. sex.  Home territory bars are those bars used by a specific group and that group only (Cavan, 1966, pp. 143-233).  A number of the bars of Oxford, Ohio may be categorized under each of these defined areas.
     Allon and Fishel also discuss that in bars, people’s conventional behaviors are suspended in order to participate in activities that are unlike themselves.  They try different personalities, and drop daily routines to relax and unwind (Allon and Fishel  129).  In groups, people perform differently compared to how they would normally act because group dynamics are intensified in the bar setting.  Most people use pick up lines and  such to try to influence people's impressions of them in a bar, or partake in a form of lying and deception.  With alcohol flowing like water through this atmosphere, and people intaking mass quantities of it, people's behaviors change from the beginning to the end of the night.

Beginning Page

Group Dynamics

Lying and Deception

Alcohol-Induced Behavior

References

This tutorial was produced for Psy 324, Advanced Social Psychology, Spring 2000 at Miami University.  All graphics are from the public domain, used with permission, or were created by the authors. Social Psychology / Miami University (Ohio USA).   Last revised: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 16:49:50. This document has been accessed 1  times since April 15, 2002. Comments & Questions to R. Sherman