3 Historical overview -The beginning of alcohol consumption

Introduction (Bettina) ............................................................................................... 2
Methodological considerations to the project (Bettina) ........................................... 3
Research and interview design (Julia) .............................................................. 6
Interplay between culture and consumption (Jacob) ........................................ 8
Culture ...................................................................................................... 8
Consumption............................................................................................. 9
Why humans consume .............................................................................. 9
The object-person relationship ............................................................... 10
Cultural categories and principles .......................................................... 12
Discourse theory (Dennis) .............................................................................. 13
Theoretical procedure ............................................................................. 14
The scientific theoretical view ................................................................ 15
Discourse psychology ............................................................................. 15
Critical discourse psychology (Dennis) .......................................................... 18
Ideological dilemmas .............................................................................. 20
Subject positions ..................................................................................... 21
Historical overview -The beginning of alcohol consumption in Mexico (Octavio)22
Actual conditions in the beer Mexican market ............................................... 24
Why Carlsberg waited so long to enter in the Mexican beer market? .... 26
Analysis (Bettina) ................................................................................................... 27
Analysis of the interviews with Mexicans living in Mexico (Bettina) ........... 28
Cultural categories (Bettina)................................................................... 29
Discourse about alcohol consumption (Octavio).................................... 30
Discourse about alcohol consumption related to gender (Bettina) ......... 31
Discourse about Mexican beer culture (Octavio) ................................... 33
Discourse regarding beer brands (Bettina) ............................................. 37
The blur of Denmark and Carlsberg (Octavio) ....................................... 40
Summary of analysis of interviews with Mexicans living in Mexico
(Bettina)… .............................................................................................................. 41
Analysis of interviews with Mexicans living in Denmark ............................. 42
Discourse about age groups (Jacob) ....................................................... 42
Discourse about foreign brands (Jacob) ................................................. 45
Discourse about connotations to different kinds of alcohol (Jacob) ...... 47
Discourse about alcohol consumption of different social classes
(Dennis).. ................................................................................................................ 48
Discourse about the social sphere (Dennis) ............................................ 49
Gender and drinking discourse (Dennis) ................................................ 53
Discourse about national identity (Julia) ................................................ 57
Frequency of Drinking (Julia) ................................................................ 58
Knowledge/ Experience of Denmark (Julia) .......................................... 60
4.2.10 Summary of the analysis of interviews with Mexicans living in DK
(Julia)….. ................................................................................................................ 62
Core points from whole analysis (Julia) ......................................................... 64
Conclusion (Julia) ................................................................................................... 66
Discussion (Dennis)................................................................................................ 68
Bibliography (Octavio) ........................................................................................... 70
1 Introduction
This investigation is concentrated on a case study of the Danish company Carlsberg
A/S. One might assume that consumption of alcohol is in many places of the world a
matter of drinking beers and liquor to celebrate special events, at bars, clubs and
discotheques or to relax after an intensive working performance, or to be accepted in
different social groups, in this investigation we will figure out if that assumption holds
true among a target group of young Mexicans. According to the Latin-American Beer
Producers Association until 2006 Mexico occupied the second place in beer
consumption in Latin America. Furthermore a research made for the Pan-American
Health Organization in 20071 concludes that beer is the most consumed alcoholic
beverage among Mexicans, which is relevant for Carlsberg A/S if the company seek to
increase its market share in one of the biggest markets in Latin America – Mexico.2
That fact makes us wonder which cultural issues are at stake when a Danish company
such as Carlsberg A/S brands their products to the Mexican consumer. The general
background for our interest in the Mexican beer market stems from a telephone
conversation with the sales representative for Carlsberg in Latin America, Brian
Hansen.3 In this correspondence, Brian Hansen claimed, that the general belief of
Carlsberg is, that Latin American people hold strong prejudices against foreign beer –
and strong national preferences for national beer.
There have been and are in these days written many publications about “How to
do Business in a foreign country” but can it really be written in a manual how to act and
understand a consumer - a person from a country with completely different norms and
values from Denmark and how does it affect the consumption of the Danish products?
Do the Mexicans admire the Scandinavian way of living or do they even know
Scandinavia and Denmark, do they find a foreign beer “cool” or do they prefer to
consume their national beer? What are the consumer habits and values of the Mexican?
Based on these basic wonderings, we have formulated two research questions:
http://www.paho.org/Spanish/DD/PIN/Multicentrico_Espa%C3%B1ol.pdf (own translation)
www.ambmexicocity.um.dk. 23-10-2008 - Den Danske Ambassade i Mexico: Publikation ”forbrugere
og indkøbere” p. 4, 2004
Phone correspondence with Brian Hansen, Latin America sales representative Carlsberg A/S,
1. What cultural elements are relevant to beer consumption for the Mexican
2. Is there a cultural reason why it is being so difficult for Carlsberg A/S to increase
their market share at the Mexican market?
2 Methodological considerations to the project
In this project, the concept of culture and cultural meaning will be the overall theme.
Many Danish companies face the challenge of negotiating with companies from all
countries of the world every day. With the open markets and the globalization of trade
the Danish Companies need to discover new marketing strategies and methods on how
to brand and sell their products on the foreign markets. To those considerations, they
need to communicate and to some point obtain a certain understanding of the other
culture in which they wish to place their products. Knowledge about another culture
than our own requires an understanding of what culture is – what does it mean- and
does it mean the same to all people? Culture is a complex concept that has had many
different definitions. In this explorative study it is chosen to follow the hermeneutic
epistemology4, because we consider it relevant to this case study thus it reveals an
understanding of the cultural and consumption concepts which are at stake when
making branding strategies and designs marketed in a foreign country. Hermeneutic is
defined, according to the definition by Alan Bryman5, as a term: “That is concerned
with the theory and method of the interpretation on human action” 6. The theoretical
framework in this project is based on the hermeneutic theorist Hans Georg Gadamer´s
works on hermeneutics and is to be understood as a conceptual framework. The
theoretical epistemology is based on the hermeneutic circle that can be described as a
method which “…describes the process of understanding a text hermeneutically.”7
meaning that the way we understand a text as a whole is made by each individual’s
understanding and both the whole text and the individual part need to be understand as
reference to each other if not done so, it is not a circle.
Bryman, Alan, “Social Research Methods”, Oxford University Press, 2008, p.693
Ibid., p.695
Birkler, Jacob, ”Videnskabsteori”, Special-Trykkeriet Viborg A/S, 2005, p.98
The following statements on the definition of culture will be taken into
A system of shared human behavior, ideas, values and rules of living
The results of a learning process
Created in a social context
Expressed in a symbolic form
Taken for granted and assumed to be natural by the culture itself.”8
The project has its background in the epistemological position: Social Constructivism.
This position is defined as a: “Social phenomena and categories are not only produced
through social interaction but that they are in constant state of revision.”9
There are many different approaches to culture and social constructions, however in
this project the social constructivistic approach will be used to analyze the qualitative
data, as a tool to grasp the subjective meaning of the social action of the respondents.
This approach to culture is based on a hermeneutic10 view on culture that derives from
the theoretical viewpoint of Gadamer who suggests that our: “Horizon (…) helps us add
meaning to what we experience.”11 That viewpoint is further illustrated in the quote
“The horizon is the range of vision that includes everything that can be seen from a
vantage point. Applying this to the thinking mind, we speak of narrowness of horizon, of
the possible expansion of horizon, of the opening up of new horizon, and so forth.”12
As Gadamer emphasizes in the quote the horizon refers to what we can see from
where we stand, and this derives from our contextual pre – understanding of the world
we are part of. The pre- understandings are much discussed phenomenon though by
placing them as central of cultural understanding Gadamer suggest that we all have preunderstandings /prejudices towards “the other”: “Interpretation begins with foreconceptions (pre- understandings) that are replaced by more suitable ones. This
Askehave and Norlyk, “Messages and Meanings”, Academica, 2006, p.8
Bryman, Alan, “Social Research Methods”, Oxford University Press, 2008, p.19
Birkler, Jacob, ”Videnskabsteori”, Special-Trykkeriet Viborg A/S, 2005, p.98
Askehave and Norlyk: “Meanings and Messages”, Academica, 2006, p. 44
constant process of new projection constitutes the movement of understanding and
To be able to analyze and to understand “the other”14, it requires investigation of the
way the other person talks – to his discourse. According to Michel Foucault/ Günter
Kress discourse is“… systematically – organized sets and statements which give
expression to the meanings and values of an institution (...) they define, describe and
delimit what it is possible to do…”15 In the project, discourse psychology is
implemented to study the process of reality of the respondents through their language
and perception of their culture. The aim of the project is to get a broader understanding
of the question at stake and our respondents discursively constituted views of alcohol
The following methodological strategy will be practiced in the process of the
investigation. The project is an explorative study and the methodological process will be
as the following:
1. Problem formulation
2. Method and Theory
3. Presentation of the date collection
4. Presentation of the findings
5. A conclusion made by the observations found in the qualitative investigation in
correspondence with the theoretical framework
The research topic is concentrated on a present problem to the Danish beverage
company Carlsberg A/S; the problem itself is of concern to Carlsberg A/S and also to
other beer companies which are about to enter or increase shares on the Mexican
market, because it will based on its findings identify Mexican values regarding beer
consumption. The empirical investigation will be elaborated as a qualitative study,
based on the literature of the book Culture and Consumption by McCraken.16
Ibid., p.42
In this project understood as ”the foreign”
Askehave and Norlyk, “Messages and Meanings”, Academica, 2006 p.51
McCracken, Grant, “Culture and Consumption”, Indiana University Press, 1990
The theory mentioned above are going to be implemented in the project as a
theoretical framework in order to give the reader a broader understanding of the cultural
bounded meaning towards consumption. Furthermore, possible consumption issues will
be analyzed that a Danish company like Carlsberg has to take into consideration when
making their branding strategy to establish themselves on a market with a culture that
differs significantly from the Danish one.
2.1 Research and interview design
The findings will be observed and analyzed by performing semi structured interviews
based upon the qualitative study methods of Steiner Kvale.17 This method is chosen,
because it may provide to the reader an in depth knowledge of the cultural meanings
and values that are at stake in the choice of beer brand. The findings will provide the
reader with knowledge of the assumptions of the participators towards beer
consumption, and furthermore it will contribute to clarifying their specific values in the
search for understanding their perceptions and experiences towards foreign beer brands.
Consequently, we will discuss in this project if the Mexican´s beer preferences is
created by the culture and which symbolic meaning it has for the respondent, as an
attempt to analyze the reasons for their preference of beer brand. The research will try to
reveal which symbolic value the beer consumption represents for the target groups and
their influence of the Mexican comprehension of their identity. Talking with each other
represents a basic very natural form of communication amongst people which serves
overall to get information from the counterpart. While speaking to someone, asking and
answering questions we gain an insight about the Mexicans personality, their dreams,
wishes and beliefs. This way of communicating is also used for research interviews.
Steinar Kvale gives a deeper view to that kind of genre – namely the semi-structured
interview which contains values of daily life to certain aspects of the world. He defines
it as “…an interview that has the aim to obtain descriptions of the interviewees` world
with regards to interpret the meaning of the described phenomena.”18
During the past century this method became more and more popular also in the
economic field and is there used for opinion polls and consumer research. Institutions
wanted to know more about the customer´s feelings, wishes, opinions, experience and
Stainer, Kvale, “Interviews”, Hans Reitzels Forlag, 1 edition, 2005
Ibid., p.19
lifestyle either to market products concerning their needs or to keep them away,
depending on the intentions of the business.19
Further Kvale pictures the seven steps in interview research which are going to be
used in this case:20
1. Topic (why? what? how?)
2. Design
3. Interview
4. Transcription
5. Analysis
6. Verification
7. Report
The qualitative investigation consists of two parts: The first part includes semi
structured interviews with Mexicans which means that data will be collected by
interviewing two groups of Mexicans that represent the two target groups: Mexican men
currently living in Mexico – and Mexican men currently living in Denmark. The
argument for interviewing the Mexicans in Denmark is that they are young people
exploring a foreign culture, so they have explored both societies hence they probably
look at the consumption differently – from a cultural point a view. We have chosen
respondents above the Mexican legal drinking age of 18 years. Since both Mexican and
foreign beer commercials broadcasted on the Mexican market are directed towards
people under approximately 30 years of age. Hence we have chosen to set 30 years as
the upper age limit of our respondents.
The number of interviewed people is seven:
3 Mexicans with a current address in Denmark
4 Mexicans with an address in Mexico
The interviews with the Mexican respondents will be realized as phone interviews.
The respondents are asked in-depth questions regarding their consumer habits and
values. The interviews of the Mexicans living in Denmark are performed face to face.
All interviewees in both operations are randomly picked. These qualitative interviews
shall give information and understanding of social phenomena and attitudes towards
Ibid., p.79
Ibid., p.95
alcohol consumption habits from which conclusions will be developed. This is needed
in order to understand Mexican behaviour when they make decisions due to their own
alcohol/ beer consumption which will lead us to Carlsberg´s idea to reach potential
The following interview structure and catalogue will be implemented in as part of
the qualitative investigation: First the background of the participant will be recorded;
that is age, occupation and origin. From that it is later to create the environment of the
respondent (multivariate analysis).21 A semi-structured interview follows which
contains both standardized and open-format questions in order to receive the best
outcome possible; that may be through asking same questions but from different
2.2 Interplay between culture and consumption
In this chapter, we are going to discuss in which ways the phenomenon of culture and
the practice of human consumption affect each other. To investigate this, we define
working definitions for the two words – culture and consumption.
2.2.1 Culture
We use the definition of culture provided by Thwaites et al.: “Culture is the ensemble of
social practices by which meanings are produced, circulated and exchanged.”22 The
reason this definition is chosen, is not because of any particular preference for these
authors. The definition is simply chosen because it has the adequate breadth to embrace
the very large field of meaning structures, that is at play in the interplay of culture,
consumption and as shall be described shortly, identity construction.
To elaborate on the definition, we view culture as something fluent, something
that is defined at a certain moment by the sum of the practices by which it is made up.
This is relevant in our study, in that this ontological position guides our choice of
research paradigm and therefore research method.
Walliman, Nicholas, “Social Research Methods”, SAGE, 2006, p. 119
Thwaites, Tony, et al. “Introducing Cultural and Media Studies: A Semiotic Approach”, Palgrave 1994
2.2.2 Consumption
We use a definition of consumption as “…the processes by which consumer goods and
services are created, bought, and used”23 It thus becomes clear that we recognize the
interplay of the two phenomena. The act of consumption is both constituted by the
“surrounding” culture – and in turn aids to constituting this very culture itself. Therefore
the interplay will assume a somewhat circular feedback-loop where the two phenomena
affect each other mutually. This view of the two phenomena as constantly affecting each
other corresponds with and actually serves as a basis of our social constructivist
understanding in this project.
In the following, we present an outline of our understanding of the behavior of
2.2.3 Why humans consume
People had been consumers at all times. In fact, every living organism is in a way
performing the act of consumption, since all without exception rely on material and
energy from the surrounding environment to survive. The first humans, living as hunters
and gatherers, were consumers of animals they killed. Flint was the material they
produced tools from and trees they burnt for warmth. Apart from these strictly
utilitarian purposes of material consumption, we know that people have always engaged
the practice of connecting meaning to material objects and practices. With regard to
material objects, this could for instance be jewelry or garments that signaled social
status, or totems which were associated with supernatural meanings and powers. With
regard to practices, we could use the act of offering to the Gods as an example of a
practice that has been connotated with meaning, not inherent in the strictly practical
execution of the practice.
According to that, consumption is not a new phenomenon. What is new however
is the great extent to which consumption has become the main constituting factor of
identity formation in industrialized countries. In his book “Culture and Consumption”
Grant McCracken describes this phenomenon as the following:
“Consumer goods have a significance that goes beyond their utilitarian character and
commercial value. This significance consists largely in their ability to carry and
communicate cultural meaning.”24
McCracken, Grant, “Culture and Consumption”, Indiana University Press, 1988 p. xi
Ibid., p.71
Thus it is to observe that the act of consumption has other purposes than the
simple gratification of physiological needs. Consumption is in itself a form of
communication – a method by which the individual consumer seeks to communicate
claims about him or herself to the social surroundings, thus seeking to convince others
(and self) to viewing him or herself as fitting within a certain role, or social persona.
In the article “Becoming a ‘Woman to the Backbone’”, Christian Jantzen et al.
describe how identity has two different sides. On the one hand, identity is about
conforming or at least relating to a surrounding social world. On the other hand it is
directed towards “inner longings and bodily sensations”.25 This means that our analysis
will have to account for these two effecting forces on the interviewees´ consumption
habits. We have to investigate what internal psychological and physiological longings
dominate the decision process, and what is at stake between the respondents` perception
of the surrounding culture as well as the behavior of consumption.
2.2.4 The object-person relationship
A basic tenet of McCracken’s research is that he puts consumer goods at the center, the
locus of cultural meaning.26 This means that in this understanding, most, if not all, of
the meaning that is circulated in a society, revolves around consumer goods. The goods
are the material symbols that people use to
communicate desired meanings about
themselves to other people.
According to McCracken, the
meaning of consumer goods is constantly in
transit – meaning that there is constantly
communication between different actors in
the meaning-production chain; (see
Jantzen Christian, et. Al. “Becoming a Woman to the Backbone” Journal of Consumer Culture, 2006
edition 6 volume 2, p 177
McCracken, Grant, “Culture and Consumption”, Indiana University Press, 1988 p. 83
Ibid., p. 72
McCracken states, that the meaning of goods is located in and communicated between
three separate stages. From the culturally constituted world, which is the everyday life
that we all take part in, two actors “borrow” add meaning to certain consumer goods.
These two are respectively used the advertising industry and the fashion world. Through
visual representations, i.e. commercials and advertisements, these two actors give
meaning to the goods. This meaning is then, in turn, adapted to the individual consumer
through different “rituals” of consumption.
In this study only one of the rituals, the possession ritual, will be relevant to
investigate. In the following it is presented both a brief description of the four rituals
and an explanation of why we choose to solely investigate the possession ritual.
Possession ritual: The possession rituals are related to the way how consumers use
products to create their own identity, their own personality. Those rituals or practices
are ways in which the consumer moves the meaning. The signification which the
culturally constituted world has connected to them. In the case of a new house, a
possession ritual could be a housewarming where the owners of the house show their
friends what they have achieved- what social status should now be offered to them. If a
person owns an object, but does not feel a connection to the meanings attached to this
object, according to McCracken it is a case of “owning” the object – not “possessing”.
With regard to beer, a possession ritual could be for instance the act of displaying the
bottle while drinking the beer in public, or adversely pouring the beer into an
anonymous glass and hiding the bottle.
The possession rituals connected with a certain good tells in what ways the good
fits into that person’s life and self-understanding.
Exchange rituals: Exchange rituals are a manifestation of the ways people use goods to
identify or ascribe new meaning to other people. McCracken gives the example, that if a
woman is given a specific dress as a gift, she would not just be offered a piece of
garment but a particular concept of herself as a woman.
Concerning the consumption of beer we assess, that these rituals are not
relevant, as we see it as a rather rare instance, that people define each other by giving
them beer.
Grooming rituals: These rituals are used to “freshen up” the otherwise waning or fading
meaning of a certain object. One such grooming ritual could be the meticulous washing
of an expensive car. By washing the car the owner “supercharges” the car with positive
connotation, which he or she in return reflects to him- or herself.
Referring to beer, this is hardly a relevant practice as beer is a relatively lowinvolvement investment that by its nature of a drink is meant to be consumed over a
very short time of period. Thus, the meaning that the beer possesses simply will not
have time to wane in the eyes of the consumer.
Divestment rituals: Divestment rituals can placed as the opposite to possession rituals.
Where possession rituals seek to make the object a part of the consumers identity, the
divestment ritual seeks to do the exact opposite – to preserve distance between the
consumer and the meaning(s) of a certain object. Such a ritual could be the personal
decoration and wall painting of a newly possessed house in order to “erase” the
meanings of the former owners. This is done in order to prevent “meaning contagion”.28
That is the involuntary mixing of someone else´ s meaning with one´ s own.
2.2.5 Cultural categories and principles
As stated above, the Culturally Constituted World is the world of everyday experience
in which the phenomenal world presents itself to the individual. According to
McCracken this meaning presents the individual through two concepts: cultural
categories and cultural principles.29
Cultural categories are the categories that we use to classify the phenomena
surrounding us into distinct groups. Specifically, McCracken defines four categories:
Categories of time, space, nature and person.30 Groups of time could be B.C./ AD,
renaissance, baroque, etc.. Groups of person could be black, white, poor, rich, smart,
cool, man, woman, etc.
McCracken, Grant, “Culture and Consumption”, Indiana University Press, 1988
p. 83
Ibid., p. 73
These categories were into a hierarchy called a scheme of classification, as done
by Jantzen et al.31 In this the categories are placed into a tree structure, where each basic
concept is a trunk from which subordinate categories branch out.
Whenever goods are classified into categories they can only be so, if they show certain
traits that differentiate these two categories from each other. Men and women, for
example cannot be categorized separately without there being a difference between the
underlying principles that form these categories. In western culture, the category of
“men” rely on cultural principles such as “strength”, “assertiveness”, “fearlessness”, etc.
Whereas “women” stand for cultural principles such as “nurturance”, “kindness”,
“delicacy”, etc.
In this project, these concepts will serve to form a vocabulary with which we can
describe the meanings derived from our interviews.
2.3 Discourse theory
In 1985 the two theorists Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe published the book
“Hegemony and Socialist strategy”. This book is seen as the main source behind the
description of discourse theory. Their theory contains of elements from several different
theories but especially from traditional theories as Marxism, structuralism and post
structuralism. Whereas the Marxist focus lies in the more social sphere then the
structuralist focus offers a theory that is more about values. When these two theories are
combined it becomes one theory in which the social field as a whole is understood and
seen as a web of meaning creating processes.32
The original discourse theory of Laclau and Mouffes has its roots in Ferdinand
de Saussures´ lingual theory where both authors use a fishing net as a metaphor to
illustrate the structuralistic understanding of language. All signs in language can be
thought of as knouts in a net. By being different from each other they get a meaning and
are understood (Jørgensen and Phillips). People try continuously to lock their personal
Jantzen Christian, et. Al. “Becoming a Woman to the Backbone” Journal of Consumer Culture, 2006
edition 6 volume 2, p 190
Jørgensen, Winther Marianne and Phillips, Louise, “Diskurs Analyse”, Roskilde University Forlag,
1999 p.35
understandings of meanings and do that specifically when they are seeing the opposites.
The metaphor has been criticized though being to stringent, regarding to see meanings
and signs in spots, that are very specific.33
Nevertheless this is the reason why we as a group chose to use Jørgensen and
Philips in our project. The two theorists look rather upon discourses as constantly
movable objects with meaning creating processes occurring continuously. Despite they
have written the book ‘Diskurs analyse – som metode og teori’ (eng. Discourse
Analysis as a Method and Theory), in which they have an opinion about all the different
discourse approaches in the discourse sphere, they have the ability of staying critical at
the same time. Also it is important in our case to see discourses as flexible and
manageable, and not like fixed points. We are working with consumption, meaning
processes constantly are touched and changed in a continuum varying form by persons
and different social layers.
2.3.1 Theoretical procedure
Overall discourses are seen as being patterns in the language, wherein our admission to
reality lies and is created. When we act in social rooms our statements and utterances
follow these patterns. Discourses can be very different and can be everything, e.g.
political, masculine, feminine, health, social or consumption discourses can be at stake.
Discourses in general have one thing in common though; “We speak about and
understand the world in a certain way when discourses are affected or referred to”.34
We look upon the discourses as objects in constant movement and as a way to illustrate
the world as we see it in a certain perspective or as what we can assume that other
people see it in our case study of Mexican people and their consumption habits.
In connection to the empiric material we will use discourse psychology to help
us in revealing the statements of our interviewees one step further. Discourse
psychology gives a broader understanding of what is said, compared to cognitive
psychology whic just interpret inner mental processes. Discourse psychology gives us
the possibility to analyze statements about mental circumstances as social activities and
not just as deeper inner essences.35 We will furthermore describe discourse psychology
to such an extent, so the discourse paradigm can help us to segment our empirical data
Ibid., p.9
Ibid., p.105
and find the key points in the interviews and interesting dilemmas on which we will
then start elaborating and analyzing.
2.3.2 The scientific theoretical view
In our study we have chosen to apply discourse analysis as an overall methodological
tool to systematize our theories within a social constructivist worldview and through
that to use the discursive language comprehension in order to understand discourses as
different elements that constantly move and evolve in the sociological sphere.
We view the social sphere from an anti-essentialist outlook where “The social
world is constructed socially, meaning that its character is not determined or given
beforehand and that people do not really have inner ‘essences’ or a set of real and
unchangeable or authentic characteristics.”36
In the above quote Jørgensen and Philips are demonstrating that the social world
does not consist of any fixed stable clearly-cut structures which we can predetermine, so
does not human identity possess some sort of fixed and solid core or essence, which we
can pinpoint and study. Consequently our analysis is focused on a picture of situations
that in time will change.
2.3.3 Discourse psychology
Discourse psychology has a recognized position in the domain of social constructivism.
This expresses itself through its social psychological starting point and its criticism of
the mindsets that characterize the cognitive way of thinking. The world is positioned
through discursive practice, wherein the narrator/ actor forms his own subjective truth.
Language is seen as a dynamic medium designed specifically for the social practice,
through which the world is constructed. Beyond, social patterns and social relations
flourish as they are created and preserved in all kinds of different contexts where
language (both verbal and non-verbal) plays event the smallest role.37
Ibid., p.112 (own translation)
This is a anti-essentialistic view of the world “At den sociale verden konstrueres social og diskursivt
betyder, at dens karakter ikke er determineret af ydre forhold eller givet i forvejen, og at folk ikke har
interne ’essenser’ – et sæt ægte og stabile eller autentiske karakteristiske.” (Jørgensen og Phillips 1999:
This kind of structuralist and post structuralist understanding of the language,
which is integrated in the social constructivist realm, go into details about the different
contrasts which is compared to cognitivism.38
Contrasts that works against cognitivism where language is illustrated: “As
pictures of an external world or as a products of underlying mental representations of
the world. (our translation).”39 Here the process of thinking is regarded as constituted
in the discursive actions.
“Discourses are unconsciously used by people and they are used as tools from
the tool box to construct new compositions of words and sentences that may never have
been said before”40, which again helps to create a new understanding and maybe even
contribute to a common understanding of the discourse that is at stake in a given
The spoken may be in the specific context drawn upon both interpersonal and
mass-mediated communication, and thereby the language user can draw on different
elements regarding various discourses. The result of this process contributes to the
creation of new ‘hybrid discourses.’ The language user is emphasized as being an actor
in the discourse change, but ”even in those approaches, where a subjects agency and
role in a social change is seen as the most important, then the existing discourses are
seen as frames, that limits the reach of the actions of the subject and through that
possibilities and opportunities of recreation.”41 This positions the individual in the
discursive practice subordinated to a particular role in which the individual helps to
reproduce and transform new/ old discourses. Later the specific connection is explained
and how we implement these affordances of discourse analysis in project42.
When empirical supported analysis is add the discourse psychology has an
errand and an advantage of being great when clarifying specific forms/ usages of
language uses, also to clarify them in concrete social interactions. Hence this follows a
more precisely described quotation of the core competences: “To investigate how
people strategically use the available discourses to present themselves and the world in
certain ways (profitable) in social interaction and what social consequences it has”
Jørgensen, Winther Marianne and Phillips, Louise, “Diskurs Analyse”, Roskilde University Forlag,
1999, p.105
Ibid., p.27
Ibid., p.27 (own translation)
Cf. Theory section: Critical discourse analysis.
more than it’s to analyze those changes in the ’the large discourses’ of society that the
concrete language use can result in.”43
Through here the relations between individuals, meaning formation and actions in group
processes are explained more thoroughly, together with structures and activities that is
social bound. The discourse psychology takes its starting point in the actual human self,
in cooperation with a view that lies in the social constructionistic way of thinking. The
‘self’ is described as a social accomplishment who displays consumer behavior, which
means that the ‘self’ itself is “In constant unfolding, change, grouping and
Identities are interpreted as discursive which rejects the modern way of thinking.
Cause in the modern way thinking the individual would mainly just possess a fixed
identity. Thereby this makes discourse psychology see the individual as a more active
constructor of several and more flexible identities, and not just an unmovable
encapsulated identity. These flexible identities are taken into play and are adapted
depending on the circumstances and of what particular social praxis` the individual is
participating.45 From this the flexibility of the individual, it’s domain, specific remarks
and it’s actions can help constructing conflicting identities, because “Identities in high
modernity becomes further fragmentized and unstable, because they are constructed
through an amount of conflicting and often very antagonistic discourses.”46
An example of the politic identity of an individual can vary and seem conflicting
when comparing to e.g. sacred guidelines that determine a religious affiliation. That
changeability which is included in different identities must be contemplated in
correlation with a group affiliation of the individual. Mainly because bindings have an
impact on individuals, concerning how their self-understanding is affected or
A common and well known premise in discourse psychological science is
viewing science work as discursive processes within that, connections of more possible
Jørgensen, Winther Marianne and Phillips, Louise, “Diskurs Analyse”, Roskilde University Forlag, 1999, p.16
Ibid., p.115
The individual has hereby obtained a ’sense of self’ (translated = selfunderstanding), and can initiate
closures; “Den identitet man italesætter på et givent tidspunkt, kan forståes som aflejringer af tidligere
diskursive praksisser. Aflejring skaber kontinuetet (...) man former en selvforståelse ved at vælge en
version af selvet frem for alle de andre mulige versioner af ’mig’. Dette er en lukning.” (Jørgensen and
Phillips 1999: 116)
Jørgensen, Winther Marianne and Phillips, Louise, “Diskurs Analyse”, Roskilde University Forlag,
1999 p.115
structures of the world are established and discovered. Thus it has become an effort in
within the discourse science field. From the discourse psychological point of view the
world is often looked upon as established values of truth which are representations of
the real life. This however introduces a problematic aspect anchored in discourse
psychological research, namely: “How can a researcher know and validate that his/her
own version is better than the versions created by others? You run into trouble, if you
want to defend and privilege one statement before others.”47
The diversity of the discourse psychology does not seem to weaken the scientific
academic standards though, because the thesis’s of the scientists can support and
validate the work that they carry out in the name of science. Not all demands of validity
is dismissed even though the objectivistic demands of validity and reliability isn’t
incorporated directly in every research. On the other hand it is also possible to find
cases about considerations concerning the established power balance between
researcher and informant, where “the scientists can equalize themselves and their
statements with their interviewees and their statements.”48 If that is the case then it is
possible to implement the informant´s considerations directly into the researchers work
and thereby integrate their statements as a part of the research interpretation process;
which again is a part of metaphysical evaluation of the researchers own method of
researching and the research is getting a more subjectively glow about it.
2.4 Critical discourse psychology
In the book “Discourse as data, a guide for analysis”49 Nigel Edley presents a method
for using the discourse analysis in another term called “critical discourse analysis”.
Where the psychology traditionally attempts to use the language as a resource to
understand what’s going on in the minds of test subjects, then the discourse psychology
uses language as a subject instead and attempts to examine how people talk about or
constitute attitudes and feelings.
The traditional discourse psychology is anchored in tradition, where the focus of
the analysis is pointed more against the specific happening in a given situation. The
Ibid., p.120
Ibid., p.121
Wetherell, Margaret, Taylor, Stephanie and Yates F. Simon, “Discourse as Data, A Guide for
Analysis”, SAGE 2000.
critical discourse psychology takes a step further back and recognizes interaction as
something that always happens in a historical context. It must be accepted that when
people talk, they make use of their repertoire of expressions, in which they have
received through their history and experiences.50 A person that talks also makes a lot of
choices between many different terms and expressions which are available to him or
her. Terms are not always given equal status though, some expressions can be
homogenized which means that they are working with or dominating a certain
To summarize critical discourse psychology it is to say that a person is reluctant both to
exist as a product of discourses, but at the same time be the producer of new discourses.
Edley explains further three central concepts in the use of critical discourse analysis:
interpretative repertoires, ideological dilemmas and subject positions. They will be
explained further in the following.
Interpretative repertoires
The interpretative repertoires were introduced for the first time in 1984 by Nigel Gilbert
and Mike Mulkay in their book “Opening Pandoras Box”. The concept was later
incorporated into the social psychology by Jonathan Potter and Margaret Wetherell.
They defined interpretative repertoires as”basically a lexicon or register of terms and
metaphors drawn upon to characterize and evaluate actions and events.”51
When people think or speak they make use of certain terms which are given
before and are stored in their mind. Using interpretative repertoires is a relatively
consistent way of talking about objects and events. They can be called the
“buildingblocks” of conversation, which refers to conversations being a
collection/amount of language resources available from varying interpretative
repertoires. These different ways of speaking about the world and concepts in it creates
a basic common social understanding and makes it possible for us to communicate.
Interpretative repertoires have its roots buried in the cultural history and therefore it
becomes the resources that the actor/speaker is drawing upon, which then again make
and encourage people to use the subjects or lines that are given to them by others in
their environment. Getting inspiration from the surroundings to use or reuse the same
Ibid., p.190
Ibid., p.198
forms of arguments as people around us and then evidently create own arguments which
are in correlation with our language/subject understanding.
Nigel Edley describes that it is a necessity to have good knowledge for ones own
empirical data in order to be able to identify the interpretative repertoires correctly. By
reading ones empirical background thoroughly and repeatedly, one begins recognizing
patterns in the speech of the participants, especially in pictures, metaphors or certain
ways of speaking.
2.4.1 Ideological dilemmas
The other concept, ideological dilemmas, was introduced by Michael Billig in the book
“Ideological dilemmas” in 1988. The book contributed to the discussion going on at the
time, about the true nature of ideology; “It sought to question or problematize the
prevailing (marxist) notion that ideologies were integrated and coherent sets of ideas
that served to represent the domination of the ruling sections of society as natural or
Billig´s intentions didn’t deny the existence of this form of ideology, but by
distinguishing between “intellectual” ideologies, the existing and lived ideologies, he
introduced an extra type of type of ideology. ”Lived ideologies were said to be
composed of the believed, values and practices of a given society or culture. They are
its ‘way of life’, it’s common sense.”53
Edley believed that “lived ideologies” were close to what others refer to as
culture and Billig himself believed that it could be described as all the gathered wisdom
in a given culture or society.
Billig tried to specify that “lived ideologies” or “common sense” (also called
reason) aren’t necessarily alike. Reason has a lot of opposing or battling arguments. At
the simplest level the dilemmatic nature of ‘lived ideologies’ can be seen in the maxims
that define our cultural ‘common sense’. For example the following two sayings: ‘too
many cooks spoil the broth’ and ‘many hands make light work’. Billig et al. (1988)
drew on these examples to highlight the conflicting and contradictory nature of
Ibid., p.202
Ibid., p.203
‘common sense’, and therefore to argue that lived ideologies are dilemmatic and have
affect on the culture in it’s lack of skill to give any definitive answers.54
Edley on the other hand believes that it is sometimes hard to distinguish between
ideological dilemmas and interpretative repertoires. “Both language parols display that
“is out there” and circulating the society.”55 We interpret and understand interpretative
repertoires as a part of cultural reason while ideological dilemmas sets up two different
and contradicting “reasons” within the same subject.
2.4.2 Subject positions
The third and last concept that Edley presents is subject positions: “Ideology creates or
constructs ’subjects’ by drawing people into particular positions or identities.”56 The
way you experience and feel about yourself is created by ideology. Subject positions are
thereby in cohesion with interpretative repertoires and ideological dilemmas, which exit
in any given culture.
Louis Althusser introduced in 1971 what was going to become subject positions in
the future. Altusser spoke about the concept of interpellation which describes the
phenomenon of being mentioned or spoken about as a certain group or person; e.g.
when one mentions drunks as a group of persons and connects their individual
behaviour to be in a certain way, namely the interpellation where drunks are positioned
or subjected in a certain way.
Subject positions are identities that reveals in the different ways we choose to
speak about something or someone. It doesn’t matter if it is oneself who create the
subject positions or if they are created from the outside. These identities are affecting
and decisive. Identities are built up and broken down in the interplay with different
discourses and therefore subject positions rely in correlation with interpretative
To recognize subject positions in data is often not quite easy from Edley’s
perspective. The trick is to look at statements from the interviewees and interpret what a
comment can tell about the particular person who is commenting/talking. From that
Ibid., p.204
Ibid., p.209
point it is to find out who and what is said concerning the specific discourse or
interpretive repertoire that is at stake.57
3 Historical overview -The beginning of alcohol
consumption in Mexico
Before we begin to analyze the consumption habits of Mexicans in concordance with
the cultural perspective mentioned earlier in the project, we present in this chapter an
overview of the alcohol consumption in Mexico.
Alcoholic beverages are firmly based in the Mexican culture and have been there
for many generations. Since the ancient civilizations were established in Mexico, like
the Mayas, Aztecs, Toltecs, Olmecs etc, alcoholic beverages had been part of the sacred
life. An example is Pulque, made out of cactus juice, which was originally used by the
priests and leaders of the tribes in religious rituals. They were arguing that they were the
only capable persons of controlling the power of such a drink. Today Pulque is still a
common beverage, and for those tourists or Mexicans who want to test it, it is available
in different regions throughout the country.
In Mexico a large tolerance exists when it comes to alcohol consumption. From
a very early age parents introduce their children to an alcohol culture, giving them small
samples of different alcoholic beverages to taste. For instance in some small towns, in
big states like Puebla, Tlaxcala, Oaxaca, Guadalajara or Hidalgo, it is often seen that
parents giving their children small portions of Pulque or Mezcal, when they are only 4
or 5 years old. In addition, family parties are a place where it is common watching
parents or relatives of small children, taking a few drops of beer on their fingers to the
lips or the mouths of the infants. Alcohol is a great part of the Mexican culture and
something that Mexicans become acquainted with from very early age on.
Furthermore Mexicans celebrate a huge number of parties and holidays every
year where alcohol is often served and consumed. Besides of the traditional celebrations
such as birthday parties, weddings, sweet fifteenth, mothers day, independence day etc.,
another tradition exists consisting in the celebration of the anniversary of the patron
saint in every Mexican village, town or city. These sorts of celebrations are called
Ibid., p.210
popular fairs and last from three days, in very small villages, up to 4 weeks in big cities.
These festivities involve the whole population of the town, cities and sometimes even
the neighbouring cities. That means, that it does not matter when or where people go to
Mexico; they will find such kind of celebrations all over the country throughout the
In the following paragraphs a brief description of the special topics regarding
alcohol will be made.
The flavour of drinks
Mexicans have adapted different drinks to their own culture. Mixtures of beer with
spicy sauces and fruits. Tequila, Brandy, Vodka, Whisky and Rum mixed with soda
water and herbs. Pulque58 is mixed with fruits which makes it taste like a very strong
milkshake with the flavour you prefer but with an intoxicating effect. What Mexicans
drink today is a mix between what is produced within the Mexican territory and what is
imported. Today you can find almost the same liquors in Denmark as in Mexico, but
when it comes to beer, the variety is less in Mexico.
The bottom of the bottle
The Pan American Health Organization in its 2007 report affirmed that: “the impact of
alcohol in the year 2000 was the most significant health risk factor in middle income
countries (including Brazil, Mexico and most of the Latin-American countries), and
secondly in developed countries such as the USA and Canada (Rehm and Monteiro
2005). In these reports Latin America is the only place in the world where alcohol is the
leading health risk factor.”59
According to the Mexican National Addictions Survey, the aftermaths of the
consumption of alcohol are different between men and women. From the biological
perspective men and women experience alcohol consumption in different ways; for
instance women are more susceptible to breast cancer and hepatic illnesses than men. In
a socio cultural perspective Mexican women are more rejected than men from the
society as consequently alcohol consumption by women is less accepted than alcohol
consumption by men.
Pulque is a national Mexican drink.
http://www.paho.org/Spanish/DD/PIN/A&SP.pdf (own translation) 22.11.2008
Since adolescence it is common that men drink more often than women. Women
and men who live in urban areas drink more than those, who live in the country side,
while the men from both sectors (urban and rural) drink more and more often. Besides
men have a bigger dependence on alcohol than women.60
3.1 Actual conditions in the beer Mexican market
The fame of Mexico’s drinks comes from Tequila. For centuries Mexico has been
characterized by the production of different alcoholic beverages made out of sugar cane
and cactus plants such as Tequila, Mezcal and Pulque. What most people do not know is
that Mexico is the sixth largest producer of beer in the world61 after Brazil, Germany,
Russia, USA and China, producing 80,943 millions of hectoliters in 2007.62
Beer is the most consumed and popular alcoholic beverage amongst Mexicans63,
who have an annual beer consumption of 58.42 litters per capita, just below Venezuela
in the Latin American area.64
The first brewery in Mexico goes back 20 years after the Spanish Conquest in 154265.
But it was not until the XIX century when beer started to be produced in large scale, due
to the construction of the rail system in Mexico which allowed the import of machinery
to the country.66
Cerveceria Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma was established in 189067 and 35 years
later68 Grupo Modelo entered the beer market. Since then both companies have been
operating on the Mexican beer market.At the present time Grupo Modulo and
Cerveceria Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma occupy seventh and eleventh place respectively, in
the rank among the biggest breweries in the world69.
http://www.conadic.salud.gob.mx/pie/ena2002.html (own translation) 20.11.2008
http://www.cerveceroslatinoamericanos.com/Indice2008.pdf (own translation) 18.11.2008
Hectolitre: a metric unit of volume or capacity equal to 100 litres
http://www.wordreference.com/definition/HECTOLITRE 17.11.2008
http://www.paho.org/Spanish/DD/PIN/Multicentrico_Espa%C3%B1ol.pdf (own translation)
Cf. Appendix, table1
http://www.alcoholinformate.org.mx/saberdelmundo.cfm?articulo=191 (own translation) 15.11.2008
http://www.ccm.com.mx 05.11.2008
http://www.gmodelo.com.mx/index-1.asp?go=hoy (own translation) 05.11.2008
http://www.cerveceroslatinoamericanos.com/Indice2008.pdf (own translation) 18.11.2008
Millward Brown Optimor, a specialized marketing and finance agency70,
announced in its 2008 version of the world brand ranking, the beer Corona (produced by
Grupo Modelo) as the 4th most powerful beer brand in the world in dollar value terms.71
That is just below brands such as Heineken, Bud Light and Budweiser. In the same
ranking Carlsberg is positioned in the 18th place.72
As stated on the main website of Carlsberg 73 their beer has an old history in the
American continent, especially in Latin American countries. Since 1871 samples of beer
were shipped to Brazil and then later in 1911 Carlsberg started a business relationship
with neighbor countries such as Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Guatemala, San Salvador, Costa
Rica, Argentina and Bolivia.74
Carlsberg was brewed for first time in Canada in the year 1972. However the
company did not establish Carlsberg Canada Inc until 2004. Similarly Carlsberg had
been in the American market for several decades, but likewise did not establish until
Today Carlsberg and Tuborg are worldwide exported. The following box presents
the export destinations for the beers of Carlsberg A/S. 75
American Virgin Islands
St. Martin
El Salvador
Costa Rica
http://www.millwardbrown.com/Sites/millwardbrown/ 01.11.2008
Cf. Appendix, table2
http://www.carlsberggroup.com/Company/Markets/Pages/LatinAmerica.aspx 20.11.2008
A total different history can be told concerning Carlsberg and the Mexican beer market.
They did not establish a relationship until 2007. That issue will be evaluated in the next
3.1.1 Why Carlsberg waited so long to enter in the Mexican beer
The clear answer to the question in the heading is that for a number of years the beer
industry in Mexico has been controlled by a very powerful beer duopoly made up by
Grupo Modelo and Cerveceria Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma. Together both companies
share the 98% of the beer market in Mexico.76 This situation has been making the
market conditions difficult, for new national and foreign investors who would like to
participate in such profitable industry. Many articles with a different content had been
published about this issue, mentioning the condition of the Mexican beer market and
making clear the existence of such duopoly.77
According to the Danish Export Council78, in the last couple of years Danish
companies have had difficulties to establish in the Latin American market. Carlsberg
Breweries A/S signed an agreement with Grupo Modelo, less than a year ago, where they
agreed on that Grupo Modelo will sell Carlsberg beer on the Mexican territory for the next
five years.79 As part of the agreement Carlsberg A/S would do the same with some of the
Grupo Modelo beers in European and Asian countries.80 In a Carlsberg company
announcement from November 200881, the company announced to be more focused on the
Mexican local market, a strategy that they expect to be more convenient and profitable for
them. As Marieke de Mooij says in her book “Consumer Behavior and Culture”, “one cannot
assume that the same set of values will influence two different groups of consumers responses
for the same marketing stimuli, or that causes of behavior in one country are the same as in
http://www.cnnexpansion.com/negocios/el-cambio-del-grupo-modelo/un-modelo-de-perfeccion-queintimida(own translation) 28.10.2008
http://www.reuters.com/article/ousivMolt/idUSN2634068020080526 25.10.2008
http://www.ambmexicocity.um.dk 28.10.2008
http://www.gmodelo.com.mx/inversionistas/eventos/2007_05_23.pdf (own translation) 05.112008
http://www.gmodelo.com.mx/inversionistas/eventos/2007/Carlsberg-GM_ingles.pdf 05.11.2008
Dsl35T-irMQSuo47LM4Xt7YyY_fbBR1Zt6Uxm4ESiOfZqdxwCQp5T7i-okDF7hXNuGgRDM2LohSH8Sxfxr3jSbcVT3VtYGKLco-_l-8AzjQ 05.11.2008
De Mooij, Marieke. “Consumer Behavior and Culture”. Consequences for a Global Marketing and
Advertising. Sage Publications Inc. 2004. p. 26.
An argument that supports this fact is the one communicated by the Carlsberg Latin
America sales representative Brian Hansen83, who describes Mexico as a very closed and
traditional market.
4 Analysis
In this chapter we introduce the analysis of the interviews which is divided into two
parts. Primary it is introduced a description of the special words and terms used in the
Mexican cultural context to present a broader understanding of the analysis core points.
The Mexican culture posses an extraordinary folklore and other unique traditions, which
determinate the cultural behavior and actions of the Mexican.
With the intention to give the reader a better introduction to what Spanish
language is, a brief description is given here: Contrary to what many people think, there
are many different accents and words in the Spanish language, depending on which
country or region one is living in. In addition there is huge variation in the content of
phrasal verbs which constitute what Edley calls interpretative repertoires.84 These refer
to the basic language that people use to express themselves in their daily life. In order to
show the importance of Spanish, it is the fourth most spoken language in the world after
Hindi, English and Chinese Mandarin85. The original languages in Mexico before the
Spanish conquest were tribe languages. After the Spanish conquest of Mexico in 1521
the Catholic religion was imposed as the only true religion. The evangelization process
was in Spanish. Since then the Spanish language went through a serial of changes in its
grammatical structure, adopting a different form compared to the original language used
by native Spanish speakers. New words were the result of the mix between Spanish and
some of the native Mexican dialects (the original tribe languages). A clear example of
this is the word “chocolate”, which is a phonetic deviation made by the Spaniards and
their inability to pronounce the word “xocoattl”, which has its roots in the Nahuatl
dialect spoken by the Aztecs. It means hot water which was related to the making
process of hot chocolate.
Phone correspondence with Brian Hansen, Latin America sales representative Carlsberg A/S,
Wetherell, Margaret, Taylor, Stephanie and Yates F. Simon, “Discourse as Data, A Guide for
Analysis”, SAGE 2000.
http://www.daad.de/deutschland/deutsch-lernen/warum-deutsch-lernen/04644.en.html 5.12.2008
In the book “The Labyrinth of Solitude”86 the different usage of some Spanish
words is explained. In that book it is unconsciously inferred how Mexicans through the
years have created a serial of different interpretative repertoires, ideological dilemmas
and subject positions. Mexicans adopted the Spanish language but at the same time
constructed and adjusted the words, so that they were in accordance with their original
culture and social life.
There is no doubt that this sort of characteristic can also be present in other
cultures, but in this case Mexican culture is the one that has been chosen for the current
Special language note
There is a serial of words that the four interviewed Mexicans make usage of repeatedly.
The intention of these words is to express an especial gathering or reunion with family
or friends. The words are “convivir”, “convivencia” and “convivio” mean “to coexist”.
The word in Spanish is going further than its mere translation, “convivir” implies to be
present at the same time and at the same place as others, which interacts actively and
creatively with whom you can share commonalities and empathy. However, together it
does not mean to agree on everything but the possibility of dissent, debate and regulate
any conflict without involving a breakup or the loss of social cohesion.
4.1 Analysis of the interviews with Mexicans living in Mexico
The interviews were conducted by a member of our team who is a native Spanish
speaker, and were applied to four Mexicans living in Mexico. Two of them live in the
city of Pachuca. The other two respondents live in Mexico City. The main
characteristics which were taken into consideration for the selection of the participants
Socioeconomic status: (occupation, education, income and wealth). Participants
in the interviews should belong to the middle class in the respective country,
which refers to a middle level of socioeconomic status. This condition is
necessary, due to the requirements of the analysis.
Paz, Octavio, “The Labyrinth of Solitude”, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2000
Education level; The participants should have a certain education level, with the
purpose of getting comparable answers, and to make sure they were understood
by the interviewer. The questions were formulated in order to get elaborative
Age range: All the participants belong to an age range from 18 to 30 years of
age. Taken into consideration the fact that the Mexican law describe is as illegal
to consume alcohol for persons minor than 18 years old.
The following analysis will evaluate the different cultural categories and the ones
that are unique for the Mexican interviewees presented in the investigation. The
investigation will analyze the text, discourse practice and the socio cultural practice in
the following 3 levels required as terms in the discourse psychology analysis:
o Interpretative repertoires (creation of symbols/ metaphors/ pictures)
o Ideological dilemmas (how the interviewees´ perception of the social world isideological dilemmas)
o Subject positions
4.1.1 Cultural categories
Some of the most representative categories that appear during the analysis of the
interviews are:
o Drinking / dancing
o Beer as a “starter”
o Beer or fresh water
o Not drunk, but happy
o The sharing “convivir”
Pablo Romo
26 years
Msc. Business/ International Trade
México City
Lawyer in Family Law
Imagen Designer
México City
Commercial Banking Advisor
Víctor Antonio Hernández
29 years
Gustavo Delgado
Eloy Trejo Arteaga
The interviews lasted between 17 to 33 minutes approximately, and were created as in
depth interviews following an interview guide with four main sections to be discussed
in concordance with the topic “alcohol consumption habits”:
o The age from which people started to drink alcohol.
o Gender (a determinant for which brand and how much alcohol men and women
o Their reason for drinking alcohol (is it family traditions or a certain cultural
o Their brand preferences
o Their knowledge about foreign beer brands in particular Carlsberg
All of the respondents stated that most people start to try drinking a little sip of beer
when they were at the ages 13 – 16 years old, and the boys most often began drinking
earlier than girls. The frequency of drinking alcohol was one – two times a week,
mostly in the weekends and at family reunions. The preference of alcohol was Tequila,
Whisky and national beer brands such as Modelo and Sol.
4.1.2 Discourse about alcohol consumption
The respondents make their discourse from their very particular point of view. In this
paragraph, the use of interpretative repertoires is identified. One of the most common
interpretative repertoires appear when they were questioned about alcohol consumption
habits. Gustavo comments on the early debut of drinking alcohol:
- “Unfortunately, I think that people start drinking their first shots around the age of
12 or 13 years old, but according to the law it must be until you are 18 years old.”
-“Unfortunately to get drunk often means that you have been influenced by
He also commented that sometimes the effects of the alcohol has emerged an
unpleasant feeling and that made him feel ashamed of himself.
“…unfortunately after I had drunk, a bad feeling came and never brought good
The interpretative repertoires appointed to what can be a misfortune or disgrace
for some sectors of the population in the Mexican society, in this case the early age of
consumption of alcoholic beverages amongst teenagers in Mexico, and drunkenness as a
consequence of the social influences.
To Eloy drinking in early ages is seen as something characteristic of the new
generations and their behaviour, but he is not commenting more on it than that. For him
it does not have an unfortunate meaning to get drunk in early ages. He also disagrees
with Gustavo according to why people get drunk, commenting that:
“When you get drunk is when you feel like it. The motif can be sharing a nice
moment or celebrating something. Here in Mexico partying is much related with
drinking alcohol…”89
For Pablo the reason for drinking beers and getting drunk is described as a personal
state of mind, it depended of what mood the respondent had, as shown in the following
“It might be so, that one is very glad or one is very sad, in my case I only feel
like getting drunk if I am glad. It has a special meaning to me.”90
4.1.3 Discourse about alcohol consumption related to gender
Regarding the category gender it is shown in the interviews with most of the
participants (except Gustavo) that they do consider it more common for young men to
drink and to get drunk than to young women, who often are regarded as bad if they
consume much alcohol. They subject position their statements clearly: “It is more
Gustavo Interview transcription, p.1
Ibid p.1
Eloy Interview transcription, p.2
Pablo Interview transcription, p.1
accepted that the man drink, it is not so much tolerated that a woman drink.”91
Nevertheless Pablo finds it more accepted that young women drink. He says that they
just start consuming alcohol at a later point in their life which he subject positions in
this quote:
“I think that yes there exist a small difference between men and women, we the men
begin a little earlier to drink.”92 At the very starting point of drinking he consequently
subject positions “men” with positive connotation, because he says “ we men”93 and
then afterwards when he is asked if drinking has a meaning to him he says: ”[drinking]
is simply for the joy of it.”94 (por gusto) The use of positive associations to the concept
drinking shows his subject positions and the relation between men and drinking as
positive, thereby he identifies his gender as positive. On the other hand, Gustavo
commented that women have a stronger addiction to alcohol than men:
“… I think that nowadays women are drinking much more than men, I can see that
women get more addicted to alcohol than men.”95
The above quote said by Gustavo, shows that he subject positions women and alcohol
The category gender and drinking is not much developed in the interviews.
However, the above quotes shows that it is more social accepted to drink alcohol and to
get drunk for men than for woman. It is a statement that might have deep cultural and
religious roots. As a justification of this assumption, it is a fact that Mexico adopted the
catholic religion almost 500 years ago. Since then it has been the official religion in the
country. Today more than 70 percent of the entire population is catholic and religion is
still a determinate influence factor among Mexicans. The cult and the respect for the
woman in Mexico is very strong and contradictory. A prove of this is the December,
12th where millions of Mexicans from all over the country go to Mexico City to
celebrate the Guadalupe’s Virgin Day. But despite that, Mexico posses one of the
highest rates of physical abuse towards women, too.96 The difference between men and
woman is clear defined as a part of the daily day life. It is contradictory to the Danish
society that has its roots in the protestantism perspective of christianity. Consequently it
Victor Interview transcription, p.1
Pablo Interview transcription, p.1
Ibid., p.1
Ibid., p.2
Gustavo Interview transcription, p.1
Cf. background section p.2
is more accepted to drink in the Danish society, maybe because their relationship to
christianity is not too close.
4.1.4 Discourse about Mexican beer culture
The respondents were asked how drinking is considered in Mexico and if it has a special
meaning to them.97 Drinking beer seems to be something cultural and determinate for
their social life. Drinking is something the respondents do if they feel thirsty or if they
like going out dancing. They consume beers not necessarily to get drunk, but to become
in a mental state of happiness.
Mexicans consider beer as light drink.
“Beer is more for the pre-drinking. I don’t like to get drunk or drink beer the whole
“Sometimes when I’m in a pub I drink beer as starter and then later I ask for Tequila or
something else. I also like drinking beer when is a sunny and warm day…”99
“… I like to drink beer to quench my thirst or to be cool.”100
“…is very common here in Mexico that beer is used as fresh water in a hot day…”101
To the respondents drinking beer is considered as something natural. Fresh
water is replaced with beer to quench their thirst on a sunny day or as a “warm-up”
before they start drinking stronger liquors.
Beer itself adopts two different subject positions into two different categories.
Two of the participants inferred that Mexicans prefer to drink beer on sunny days as
fresh water, whereas the term fresh water is a synonym for beer. The other two
quotations explain more clearly the preferences that Mexicans have for strong liquors,
saying that they drink beer at the beginning of the party and leave the stronger liquors
for later. The assumption just mentioned shows that beer adopts the subject position as a
starter being classified as light and soft drink.
Ibid., p.2
Eloy Interview transcription, p.2
Pablo Interview transcription, p.3
Gustavo Interview transcription, p.2
Victor Interview transcription, p.7
In the following quote, Victor uses many positive phrases connected to drinking as a
social phenomena, when talking about Mexicans and highlights its qualities: “it is
socially accepted that (alcohol) makes you happy (...) that you are glad.”102 In the next
quote he says: “it is very common that all the teenagers they get together with their
friends to share (convivir) a good time, and the alcohol is also the motive of this
Furthermore drinking is combined with social gatherings, the Spanish word used
is “convivir” by all the participants as used in the above quote is translated “to share“. It
creates meanings as “when you share something” or “get together“, those are both
positive connected phrases. The special cultural category drinking as social phenomena
is shown in the texts by the phrases: “estas en una buena platica” “you are having a
good chat”, “estas conviviendo un rato”, “you are having a nice time” and “por
gusto” “for the pleasure.”104
Following the same line referring to culture Victor commented: “I think that
beer is something very much common here in Mexico (…) Generally in Mexico, people
drink because they feel like it (...) is something that comes along with our “festive
In the previous quote the phrase “cáracter festivo” is translated “festive nature”,
this might not be an accurate translation, because in spite of the authentic meaning of
“cáracter festivo” the phrase “festive nature” might associate a negative connotation
that the partying is taken to an extreme. However “festive nature” might also connote
positive words such as happiness, laughing and smiling. This particular dilemma
implies that the understanding of words can differ widely when translating quotes from
one language into another. Hence the question of truth also is a stake here as pointed out
in the book: “Truth and Method.”106
Furthermore, when Gustavo is trying to explain some facts or valid reasons to
support some of his attitudes and behaviour related to purchase decision and brand
selection he says:
Ibid., p.2
Ibid., p.1
Ibid., p.2
Ibid., p.2, 4
Gadamer, Hans-Georg, “Truth and Method”, New York The Seabury Press, 1975
“If I drink today, it is because of the fact that I like to enjoy it at family and friend
reunions. It is not only because of the fact that I want to get drunk, it is more because of
the joy of sharing a drink together.”107
“Nowadays (drinking) is considered as a something normal. It is common that you
go out dancing in the weekends, but the fact is that you go out drinking…”108
The participant makes usage of the word fact, with the purpose to give a stronger
support to what he means. He tries to validate his attitudes, by repeatedly saying the
same phrase. The respondent creates interpretative repertoires when he is inferring the
same meaning to the same phrase as shown by the sentence above.
Regarding the meaning of drinking and the feelings of the interviewees towards
consuming alcohol and getting drunk, Gustavo shows two clear examples of what
subject positions are when he is questioned about: “what is the meaning to get drunk in
Mexico?” He says:
“…It means being popular and a person who is always at the parties”109
He correlates a drunken with a popular person, superimposing another figure to the
original; he is giving another meaning to what a drunken person is, totally opposite to
what the rest of the society can consider, in this case a drunken person adopts a positive
description being a popular person. Something similar happened to the answer of: “do
people have food with alcohol?”
“If you go out to eat and have some drinks, it is because the existence of hidden
reasons, for instance to start the party earlier; so instead of having a meal with some
drinks what you are doing is drinking and having some food.”110
Those quotes are interpreted as pictures of his ideological dilemma. Drinking and
getting drunk is to him socially accepted as well as going out, having a nice time while
drinking beers, but he interprets the act “getting drunk” in a negative way, “a bad
feeling came and never brought good consequences.”111
Eloy comments that the Mexican culture is very traditional and drinking is a big part of
Gustavo Interview transcription, p.1
Ibid., p.1, 2
Ibid., p.1
Ibid., p.2
Ibid., p.1
“…since you are a child, drinking is seen as a something normal, there is at least
one bottle of alcohol provided by the host and drinking is part of the festivities.”112
Consuming alcohol is something that is transmitted through the years, and as a
social construction drunkenness/ alcohol consumption and alcohol culture are part of the
Mexican culture. In this way interpretative repertories appear showing not only part of
the basic language but what culture in Mexico is, interpretative repertoires not only
appear in many different ways of talking, but also in the way that people is behaving,
following the same patterns and giving to social constructions a particular meaning.
The other two respondents in this analysis, does not give such an elaborated
explanation about the reasons why do they like drinking as Gustavo does, and this can
be confirmed with Victor phrase interpreted in the quote below, as a picture of the
cultural category “Mexicans do not drink to get drunk, but happy”:
I: “Why do you think that people drink in Mexico? Because they feel like it, because they
want to feel part of a special social group (...)?”
S: “Well, I do think it is a cultural reason, yes it is because they like to, maybe, I can tell
you that I drink because I feel like it (...)but I define that in Mexico, the people in general
drink because they feel like it - they like it - that derives with our festive nature. ”113
The above quote and the fact that they use alcohol to obtain a state of happiness that
does not necessary include the next step that is to get drunk, shows the interpretative
repertoires of the interviewees. It will provide to the reader a better knowledge of how
they perceive their own culture It shows that Mexicans like to drink beers in many
different situations corresponding with their culture “and not necessary to get drunk,
but happy and having a good time. The quote and in particular the use of the phrase
“festive nature” shows an identical recognition of their drinking habits: Victor uses the
word “they” when he says like it and combines/ subject positions this positive
connotation with Mexicans in general, then he afterwards says” That derives with our
“festive nature” then he once again uses a positive connotation about partying using the
word “us” he accepts completely that concept as something very much part of the
Mexican identity.
Eloy Interview transcription, p.1
Victor Interview transcription, p.4
Therefore it is to be assumed that drinking is a particular phenomenon to the Mexican
lifestyle and consequently in this analysis it is interpreted as a specific cultural category
shown in the discourse practice of the interviews.
4.1.5 Discourse regarding beer brands
The respondents living in Mexico give attention to the ideological dilemma of choosing
a beer brand or one might argue choosing the right brand for the right occasion. They
prefer drinking some special kind of national beer brands for example: Victoria, Negra
Modelo and Sol. Most of the times after have been drinking some beers, they change to
stronger liquor such as Tequila, Whiskey or Vodka. Brands as a Jack Daniels,
Buchanan’s, Absolute Vodka or Johnny Walker give them a special feeling of
I: How do you feel when consuming your favorite brand?
S Well, I tell you that personally I have developed that joy for those brands, for Jack
Daniels, Johnny Walker Red Label...well to me it is drinks that taste great and it also
gives me a certain satisfaction to consume those particular brands114”.
I: How do you feel when consuming your favorite brand?
S: Content, I mean you feel yourself satisfied to be drinking what you like the most and is
almost like a tradition…115
The interviewees showed higher preferences congruence for the national beers
which they described as good and economic. They all have tried foreign beer brands
such as American beers, Heineken, Guinness and Carlsberg but preferred the national
ones. In this investigation it is interpreted that this subject position show us that the
respondents connect culturally to the national brand, even though they are willing to try
or have tried foreign brands. From this interview, we get the impression, that Eloy holds
some positive connotations about familiarity and tradition to his favourite brands. By
consuming these particular brands, we might imply that referring to McCrackens notion
of “possession rituals”, Eloy transfers these positive connotations from the brand to his
own identity through his consumption.
Through the interpretative repertoires it is to assume that the pre understandings of
“the other” and “the self” make the respondents prefer the national beer, one could also
argue that the brand Modelo116 make the respondents associate to it positively because
Ibid., p.3
Eloy Interview transcription,, p.3
it its national. In that way Modelo beer brand becomes not just a brand name but a
symbol of “the national” and plays a strong role in the perception of the self:
I: “And do you have a favorite beer brand or alcohol brand that you always buy?
S: Of beers, I like Negra Modelo, I like the Modelo Special, I do also like some American
brands, but in general I like the Mexican beer.”117
I: “And do you have a favorite beer brand or alcohol brand that you always buy?
S: Well, the beer Victoria I like very much, (and) the Negra Modelo, here in Mexico they
are very good beers.”118
That assumption is developed further by the quotes below which show that even
though the respondents like foreign beer they prefer the national one and protect its
I: “What do you think of the foreign beer brands, do you think they are better than
the ones you consume on a regular basis?
S: I think that in some occasion one can say that they are much better than the
Mexican brands, not that it makes the quality of our (brands) worse, but they are
I: “Do you think that people (Mexicans) prefer national brands or foreign brands,
S: “(...) A Mexican beer is cheap and good, and there also exists beers like for
example, I do not remember which nationality Heineken is, I don’t remember, but
it is like, the people drink it to be more “posh” but the truth is that it is not that
good like ... to me personally the Victoria is a good beer120”
This quote shows very much that Victor is presenting an ideological dilemma,
when he first says that “one can say that they a much better” and then changes and say
people drink the foreign beer brands to become more “posh” (understood as more
fashion/cool) and they he argues that to him personally he does not find the foreign
brands good. In this discourse he relieves a distance to “the foreign” as something that
has not the same value to him as the national.
The Modelo branch corresponds to/ makes all the beer brands metioned in the interveews: Victoria,
Negra Modelo, etc.
Pablo Interview transcription, p.2
Victor Interview transcription, p.4
Pablo Interview transcription, p.4
Victor Interview transcription, p.7
The answers show that the respondents make usage of interpretative repertoires to
create their meanings through their perception of the social world. The respondents
create the subject positions in concordance to the interpretative repertoire by their
choice of speaking of something or someone.
The perception of the national and the self is built up in a synergetic way with
different discourses. Therefore subject positions are in correlation with the interpretative
repertoires. In the texts, the respondents argue that the frequency in drinking alcohol can
differ depending ones social status, the respondent claims that sometimes it might be
easier for people of low income to buy a beer and hang out with friends drinking beers
at a private home than in other places like discotheques, bar or restaurants, where people
consume alcohol differ. The respondents make a strong connection about drinking
alcohol in general and going dancing and that shows another special cultural category
“drinking and dancing”.
In the interviews the respondents argue that the beer has a special meaning to
them, drinking beer makes them feel good and they relax with a beer. If they drink beer
it’s because they feel like it or because is a sunny day. Victor tells in the interview that
he enjoys a beer as a favorite drink when spending holiday and go to bull fighting
“E: “To parties or at vacations which type of alcohol is most to be consumed? For
example I don’t know, if you are having a party at your house or are going on vacation or
having vacation at home relaxing, which drink do you mostly consume?
S: Yes, it is beer, beer I would say”
A special case is Eloy which mentions beer as secondary drink and he would not
feel himself affected in case of the existence of only one brand of beer. ”…maybe I
would stop drinking beer. I’m not loyal to that drink.”122
All respondents say that they had tasted foreign beer brands and are willing to try
them again if the opportunity comes along, however they do not feel the same
connection to the foreign brands. To sum up; the answers show that beer brands have a
strong identical signification to the consumers in Mexico, one particular phrase used to
Victor Interview transcription, p.3
Eloy Interview transcription, p.4
highlight that signification is said by Victor Antonio H. Rodriguez“ dime que tomas y te
dire quien eres” - “Tell me what brand you drink and I will tell you who you are.”123
4.1.6 The blur of Denmark and Carlsberg
The knowledge of Denmark amongst Mexicans is low. However the respondents affirm
to have a clear idea about Denmark. Geographically they located Denmark in the
European continent and the apparition of stereotypes and ancient figures appeared as it
is showed in the next quotation:
“… I can tell you that Mexicans maybe can locate geographically Denmark, in the
Scandinavian region and also that women are very beautiful…”124 In this sentence
Victor also makes use of subject positions, stereotyping Danish women as beautiful
women and inferring this is as true. While Gustavo says: “… I think that Mexicans
identified Denmark as a country, but nothing else, maybe they can also correlate
Denmark with the Viking influence and that is a very cold country.”125 Gustavo
followed also the same line than Victor. He subject position Danes as Vikings trough
the phrase the “Viking influence.”
The other two respondents also identified and located Denmark in the European
continent. But they do not correlated to any other figure. Referring to the Carlsberg
brand, the knowledge about it is limited and almost nonexistent amongst Mexicans. The
respondents answered that they have heard about Carlsberg but they could not identify
the Carlsberg brand as a Danish product, only as a European beer brand:
“…remembering now, I know that it is a European beer, but have not tasted it.126”
“…recently that I went on trip to Europe it seems to me have seen it, but I didn’t taste
These quotes are strong significant signs of that the respondent only have a
knowledge of Carlsberg by his journey to Europe, has not he been on that trip he did not
knew anything about Carlsberg. Gustavo was the only of the respondents who had
bought and tasted Carlsberg in Mexico, commenting that is a good beer.
Victor Interview transcription, p.5
Ibid., p.5
Gustavo Interview transcription, p.4
Victor Interview transcription, p.7
Eloy Interview transcription, p.5
4.1.7 Summary of analysis of interviews with Mexicans living in
How different persons interpret their own reality is also how ideological dilemmas are
created. The complexity of reality gives an unlimited number of discourses amongst
members of any society. Focus on the four participants in the interviews that are living
in Mexico they agreed on many of their ideas, concepts and the way they see the world
that surrounds them. But at the same time they differ in some aspects of the society
which can go from be very conservative to be very liberal. In the interview with Victor
it is clear to see a more conservative posture according to women and their way of
consuming alcohol, creating subject positions for women, placed them still in an
unequal society, while Gustavo says totally the opposite saying that today women drink
more than men. These two different positions within the same society create at the same
time an ideological dilemma as a result of a lack of unified criteria. It also shows us the
existence of many sub groups and different viewpoints within the same social class. An
example of this is the discrepancy that exists between Victor and Eloy in the question:
“do people have food with alcohol?” To that Victor answers“…It is something normal
in the Mexican culture we even have such places like Restaurant – Bar called cantinas,
where you can eat for “free” if you buy some drinks”. Inferring that the reason of the
existence of such places is due to the Mexican culture of having a meal together with
some alcoholic drinks.
While Eloy answer to the same question: “… It is not part of our culture to
drink in weekdays; it is something that you maybe do in weekends.”
Here Eloy denies any possibility of a daily drinking life culture, contradicting to what
Victor says.
4.2 Analysis of interviews with Mexicans living in Denmark
Leo Alvarado
21 years
Ph.D. student at AAU
Roberto Benegas
26 years
8th semester Industrial
Mexico City
Design at AAU
José Rangel
27 years
7th semester Architecture at
Mexico City
4.2.1 Discourse about age groups
From the interviews, we have been able to analyze the interpretative repertoires of the
respondents regarding the conjunction of drinking habits and the age group people
belong to.
Overall is identified three relevant age categories with distinct drinking habits;
The very young – that is, the 13-18 year olds. The young people who are from 18 to
their early thirties; and the adult / people who are older than 30. These three will now be
analyzed in chronological order.
Concerning the very young group – the respondent Leo says:
” Julia: They [the shops] sell to thirteen year old kids?
Leo: (laugh) yes yes. Probably they have all the signs about “we don’t sell beer to
(people) under eighteen” but they don’t care. They just… If you want to buy it – you just
get it. It’s no problem.
In this quote Leo subject positions both shopkeepers and young people in his
interpretative repertoire. The shopkeepers do not care about the minimum legal drinking
age of 18, and the young people have an interest in drinking from an early age. As to the
motivation for drinking at an early age Leo says:
“L: I think in most of the cases people we start drinking since we were maybe – well for
me it was sixteen, but some people started when they were fourteen or fifteen just to try a
beer. Because I don’t know when we were young we were wondering how was it like to
drink a beer.”
Thus the motive for drinking at a very early age is attributed to curiosity. We do
not know at which occasions these very young people are able to drink alcohol, but the
facts that the legal drinking age in Mexico is 18 and that it’s illegal to drink in public,
suggest that they would primarily drink under private circumstances – either at home, in
clubs, etc..
Since all our respondents belong to the age group between twenty and thirty, it
comes as no surprise, that this is the group, they are able to give the most detailed report
A recurring interpretative repertoire in the interviews is that it is seen as
inappropriate for young people to store alcohol at home.
”Roberto: …. Here [in DK] you can drink every day, its normal to drink every day, and
still be considered as normal, you can even have a lot of alcohol at home. For me it is only
like alcoholic people who has beer and liquor at home…”
” Leo: No I think – just the older people who have alcohol in their houses. People from
my age or from eighteen to twenty-five or maybe thirty we just hang out at night and then
we go to the stores and get beers or whatever we want to drink and but that’s it”
We observe that within this discourse both Roberto and Leo hold interpretive
repertoires in which they subject position people with alcohol in their homes as
alcoholics – unless they are older. Needless to say, that our respondents view the label
of alcoholic as something very negative.
From this, we might suggest that they construct the cultural category of alcohol
consumption on principles such as freedom, fun and leisure-time. That is, when alcohol
consumption is regarded in a positive sense. The negative side of alcohol consumption
is, what our respondents describe as “alcohol issues”.
This leads us to the question about the motivation these young people have for
drinking alcohol.
”Julia: So that’s like the goal of getting drunk?
Roberto: If I drink I have to be absolutely stupid and if I don’t remember it’s even better.
And maybe you need some pictures to remember it the next day (...)”
” Julia: … so it’s all about getting drunk?
Leo: Nah – not always (laugh) But if there’s something special they’ll [Mexicans] like to
get drunk. So if there’s New Year or birthday or whatever
Julia: So only on special occasions will you say “Yeah – we’ll want to get wasted!”
Leo: (laugh) yeah exactly yeah!
Julia: Ok and then it’s regarded as good when you get drunk?
Leo: No not really (laugh) not good, but fun.”
Not only in these passages, but through the interviews, the respondents associate the act
of drinking with having a good time, having fun and relaxing. This means that alcohol is
a central component of the cultural category ”free-time” or ”party-time” that stands in
opposition to the category of the ”everyday”, that is constituted by work and duty. In the
interpretative repertoire of the respondents, it’s accepted and viewed as something
positive to drink alcohol in the free time. Further we can see, that the reason for
drinking alcohol is explicitly to experience the mood change it facilitates. We see
conclude this – not as much from what is said, but more from the lack of expression,
that alcoholic drinks are drunk for the sake of their taste or their thirst quenching
From the statements, we get the impression, that there is some group pressure
amongst young Mexican men in favor of drinking.
I: So is it also to be like a part of the environment? If you don’t drink your an outsider?
R: Yeah actually sometimes they say, ”aaah your such a coward, go with the girls instead”
From this, we can hypothesize that young Mexican men subject position a guy who has
chosen not to drink alcohol as an uninteresting individual. Since this outcry: ”Go with
the girls instead” is used in a pejorative manner. We might say, that these young
Mexican men construct the cultural category of masculinity – at least in certain
situations – on the willingness and ability to drink a substantial amount of alcohol.
The last age group – the people older than thirty, is subject positioned in the
interpretive repertoires of our respondents as drinking less alcohol than the younger age
“Julia: So you parents drink?
Roberto: No they don’t drink
Julia: At all?
Roberto: Well only if they are with some friends they can drink on occasions. If I see my
mother drinking it’s like: “wow mother’s drinking”.”
“Leo: Yeah I think that people older than sixty quit drinking almost. Because they have
some problems or the doctor tells them not to drink that much. And now they can only
drink a few drinks of alcohol a month or week. “
So in the interpretative repertoire of our respondents, the behaviour of drinking for the
physical effect of alcohol stops around age thirty. In the opinion of our respondents,
people over this age now primarily drink at special occasions – within the cultural
category of ”celebration” or ”special occasion” such as weddings, holidays etc.. People
in this age group are perceived to drink alcohol for enjoyment of the taste and quality of
the product – not so much for the effect of the alcohol itself. We must at this point
stress, that this is the interpretative repertoires of Mexican men under the age of thirty.
We suppose a quite different picture would emerge from interviews with people from
within other age groups as the discussed.
4.2.2 Discourse about foreign brands
In this segment, we investigate how the Mexican respondents perceive and describe
“foreign brands”. These might include Carlsberg, Heineken etc.
As in the abovementioned example of the taste of alcohol, the discourse about foreign
brands is actually primarily characterized by the lack of knowledge thereof or interest
therein. This is probably because there aren’t many foreign beer brands available on the
Mexican market.
Julia: And where can you buy it?[Heineken – foreign beer in general] In
supermarkets or in bars or…
Leo: Hmm just special markets or bars… Not all the bars have this kind of beer.
But if you go to a very special place you can get it.
“Roberto: Well you see that, you see they are in Europe and you dont care that
much. You will know a lot of names from Traveling, but you dont really know
where to buy them in Mexico.”
But even though foreign beer is not widely available in Mexico – we see no
tendency that it’s viewed as exotic and interesting – as has been the case in Denmark in
recent years.
“Leo: …It’s very weird to say “Lets go to that place because they have different
beer and beer from – I don’t know – Germany… But it’s not that common. You
just go to a place where you’re used to go and buy beer. The beer you really like.
And you know how it tastes and that’s it. “
Naturally, this lack of connotations to foreign beer will affect the consumption
rituals regarding these. Since there is no identity benefits to be won through this
particular act of consumption, Leo will not put any special effort into achieving
consumption of these products.
Another practical reason why foreign beer is not as popular as indigenous beer in
Mexico could be its higher price.
Julia: And foreign beer like Heineken – is it more expensive?
Leo: Yes – they’re not very much more expensive but yeah – a few pesos.
Julia: So do you think that may be another reason why Mexicans would rather
drink Mexican beer than Heineken?
Leo: Yeah – it could be because of the price. Much of the people they don’t even
know that there are other kinds of beers outside of Mexico. “
Here we see that in addition to the higher price of imported beer, these brands suffer
from a lack of public acquaintance or just salient knowledge thereof.
In Denmark, imported beer is also more expensive than Danish beer, but here
the high status associated with drinking imported beer help the sales in spite of the high
price. From our interviews we get the impression, that this is not to the case in Mexico.
In the interpretative repertoires of our respondents foreign beer does nott have any
special value.
“Leo: … Much of the people they don’t even know that there are other kinds of beers
outside of Mexico.
Julia: So they think that people all over the world drink Mexican beer?
Leo: (laugh)
Julia: Do they think so?
Leo: No – but they don’t think about trying countries beer, so they – “we have beer here”
The discourse about foreign beer is thus empty of emotional connotations.
The benefit of asking Mexicans who have lived in Denmark is, that these people have
experience of both Mexican and Danish beer, and are able to make a comparison. So
what do these people think of the Danish beer?
“Julia: Ok. So but you have now also tasted Danish beer like Carlsberg – and do you like
Leo: Yeah I think – I think here in Denmark there’s a lot of – at least here in Aalborg they
have a lot of beers that are very good beer “
“Leo: …. And I don’t know if that is because there’s a special flavor I really like about
the beer but I really like the Danish beer. “
None of the respondents claim to have any negative connotations to Danish beer. On the
contrary, several of the respondents claim to enjoy the taste of Danish beer which is
stronger than that of Mexican beer.
The overall conclusion is, that the Mexican respondents do not have any
decidedly negative associations to foreign beer and Danish beer in particular, other than
its higher price and low availability.
4.2.3 Discourse about connotations to different kinds of alcohol
From the interviews, we get the general idea, that beer is perceived to be the most
commonly drunk alcoholic beverage in the respondents interpretative repertoires.
“Julia: Ok – so – do people drink in Mexico?
Leo: Yeah – they really like to drink. And I think that most of their drink is a beer.
Julia: Beer?
Leo: Or Tequila – but mostly beer.”
Julia: Ok, and in society is it the same for example when you say: “Oh, I only drink beer!”
Or is it like the same if you drink Tequila or Vodka.
Jose: I think in Mexico it´s more common to drink beers than for example special liquor
or drink. People drink much more beer.”
But since the discourses specifically pertaining to beer have already been analyzed
in the preceding, we will now turn our attention to the other available kinds of liquor
available to our respondents.
Actually – our respondents only name three different kinds of liquor – namely Tequila,
whisky and vodka.
“Leo: Yeah – the place where I live [the region of Mexico] – the people like – I don’t
know why – all the people like the same kind of beer.
Juial: Ok. And when you go out to a discoteque – do you drink beer or do you drink more
hard stuff?
Leo: Hmm no I think, when we go to a discoteque or a bar we mostly drink I dunno,
Julia: Whisky?
Leo: Yeah – cuz it’s cheap and it’s good. (laugh)
Julia: And always the same brand?
Leo: Yeah – we don’t have many brands of whisky in Mexico, so we’ll mostly have the
same brand.”
As with beer, we see that our respondents are not presented to many different brands
with witch to broaden their interpretative repertoires. Therefore they will be forced to be
loyal to a few brands. There seems to be a difference in the way beer and liquor is used.
“Leo: … In my opinion, I really like to drink beer when I am having a party or something.
But when we are having Tequila and Vodka or Whiskey or whatever because we are
celebrating something because it’s a very special party or something. Or we have money
From statements such as the one above, we see that beer is more associated to a
cultural category concerning leisure time, while whisky, vodka and tequila are
associated to the category of “celebration” or in any case, a more festive occasion than
what calls for drinking beer.
4.2.4 Discourse about alcohol consumption of different social
When our interviewees talk about the less fortunate people in the Mexican context, they
often have a lot of prejudices and thoughts about what ”these” people are like and what
they do when they drink or do not drink. They put them into a cultural category called
poor people. Roberto speaks early about this in his interview:”Yeah for example the
bigger class in Mexico is the poorer class and they drink a lot of alcohol, always
drinking from Monday to Monday, always, always, always”.128 Here Roberto gives us a
glance of the interpretative repertoires that he represents, where he doesn’t just state his
opinions in a calm way. He states firmly in the quote that ’they drink a lot of alcohol’
and then using the adverbial ’always’ repeatedly to express the validity of his statement
even more. Thereby Roberto subject positions the poor people as being drunks ‘from
Monday till Monday’ who don’t do anything else but drinking. We interpret Roberto’s
arguments of being hesitating, because he’s stressing his point so insistently again and
again although it seems to be a habit though trough his interview. He’s doing the same
thing again in the next statement of the Interview, when explaining how poor people use
their salaries ;’(...) they save a little money for the family and then they go drink and
Roberto Interview transcription, 1
drink and drink.’ This quote strengthens our assumptions from above. Furthermore the
comment tells us that either Roberto is very convinced about his knowledge of drunks
in Mexico or he is generalizing a lot.
Later Leo talks about his particular pre-understanding of poor people and
drinking, and he is asked what he thinks about their drinking habits: “I think they find it
very funny to drink a lot and get drunk and make a lot of silly things. They don’t know
what to do with their money so they just buy beers and buy drugs and whatever.”129
Leo makes strong connotations between the poor people drinking problems and the
mental condition of “having fun”, that is problematic and we are going to explain why.
His interpretative repertoires tells us that poor people do not have problems with their
drinking, but that they simply ‘(…) don’t know what to do with their money’. In this
quote Leo seemingly subject positions poor people in the same category as, what looks
like the higher classes drinking morals: ‘I think they find it very funny to drink a lot and
get drunk and make a lot of silly things’. Hopefully Leo is right and he knows some
alcoholics that actually experience joy and fun when consuming, but we think it is a
doubtful statement from Leo. Although, if Leo can speak about people who are captured
in a psychological addiction problem and truly believe that they are doing it all for fun,
then he must have some kind of personal experiences with alcoholics/poor people.
Either Leo must have knowledge of some of the inner feelings and essences of the
people in that category or he is totally distant from that way of life, if he can utter a
statement like that. We find the argument unlikely though, Leo uses the verb ‘think’ at
the beginning of this Quote and his argument is weakened greatly. The interpretative
repertoires are general Mexican attitudes towards life and alcohol, which Leo has
experienced himself or a moral code he lives by. At the same time he seems to distance
himself from this way of living, interpreted in the way he is exaggerating a poor man’s
lifestyle in this comment. Some of the Mexicans interviewed had this attitude towards
4.2.5 Discourse about the social sphere
A quote from the third Mexican/Danish person supports continuing our exploration of
Mexico’s other social classes. Jose tries to explain the largest represented class in
Leo Interview transcription, p.11
Cf. The Mexican/Mexican analysis about drinking and joy
Mexico, which differs from Roberto’s comment about the poorer class being the
“I think the middle and the lower is almost the same concerning the number of people.
And the higher class is… if you talk economically (…) the economical gap between them
is huge. I mean if you are in the high class… you have a lot of money. But if you are from
the middle class(…)you can have more money or less(…) there are lot of
influences(…)the race…in Mexico we are a mixture of many cultures: from European
settlers, Indian where there… yeah.. it depends.”131
We use this comment from Jose to illustrate the diversity that’s in the interviews that we
have conducted. Jose talks about middle class having more or less money. Jose has like
the two others Interviewees different comments. They have a common agenda of
subject position the higher class people as being people who has a lot of money and
own big companies132 and consequently can act as they feel like in the Mexican
society133. The drinking and driving example occurs in all three interviews: “Yeah their
supposed NOT to be drinking, not all respect that. If you are high class for example,
you do not care at all.”134
We have knowledge’s to our disposal, about our subjects. They are all from
somewhere in the middleclass. Therefore we map out the social spheres from our
subjects view, by analyzing statements about drinking/partying taking based on their
specific examples. This category is named: “The medium choice”, first comment is
from Roberto:
“…as just medium low and medium high. Most of them are young people starting on the
university right after high school and those that are in public school don’t drink that
much. From Monday to Friday you can go out with your friends but you don’t drink. If its
a special occasion then you can say ”okay we drink one”. And then there is Friday where
you can drink, here they usually go to clubs and stand in the bar drinking with friends.
Normally just at parties.”135
Roberto starts out by speaking about young people in the ‘medium’ class. He sees those
young people as being someone who’s ’starting on the university right after high
school’. Then he switches pronome from ’them’ to ’you’ and ’we’, which means that he
Jose Interview transcription p.9
Leo Interview transcription p.12
Cf. In analyzing gender discourse, about rich young people.
Roberto Interview transcription p.8
Roberto Interview transcription, p.2
is or have been one of these young people himself. Roberto acknowledges party and
everyday going out, as totally different things. He and his friends can go out ‘from
Monday to Friday’ without drinking. This tells us that Roberto is a very social person
and that he do not need alcohol alone to have fun, or that’s how it should be at least. It
is not easy to obey the rules always, alcohol consumption can sometimes be hard to
resist for university students.
When he goes out Friday, then it happens in ‘clubs’ and standing ‘in the bar
drinking with friends’. Roberto’s interpretative repertoires shows us that he subject
position alcohol with something fun but also a substance, which should not be a
controlling part of life in the everyday life. If it is a ‘special occasion’, then it might be
a valid reason to get a few alcoholic beverages. Roberto seems to be in complete control
and not letting the alcohol control him. Another subject in our empiric material can also
agree on the special occasion drinking argument.
Jose does not drink that often but on special occasions he opens the bottle and
drinks for the sake of festivals and in the name of traditions:
“…in public schools the celebration of national festivals or parties are huge events; and
we have in Mexico days which are by tradition in some cities very important… they
celebrate the saint .. it is like a part of the culture it is like a civic religious or traditional
culture … and in some federal schools they celebrate that very… even if the it is a
religious party… we celebrate the saint… the environment established should be a part of
the religion.”136
As Jose only like to drink on traditional days and in the name of religion and the saint,
its clear that he namely do it for the fun of it. Jose calls the ‘celebrate the saint’ days a
part of traditional Mexican culture. At the beginning he use the pronome ‘they’ but he
changes to ‘we’ when saying; ‘we celebrate the saint’. Jose’s Interpretative repertoires
have told him that it’s not good to be drinking and that he most of the time can have fun
without. Therefore Jose is subject positioned as a sort of a “saint” himself. He does not
normally consume alcohol but does it during these special occasions. That makes his
argument contradictive and the ideological dilemma is emerging. I you do not drink in
everyday life but insist on drinking during important religious happenings when it is
mostly about having fun, then it may seem a little contradictive in our opinion. But it is
a part of the Mexican culture and it may be hard to resist the temptation.
Jose Interview transcription, p.10
The last a statement in this chapter about the relationship to drinking and
partying comes from Leo. Leo is asked where people from the middle class go drinking
and if the high class people go drinking in some special places:
“Maybe in big cities – Mexico City or Monterey. But in all the rest of Mexico there are
no places for special people. They just drink or go where everybody goes. 137 In a
description of the lower, middle and high class Leo is describing, “I think the middle
class is the people who are a little more prepared for life – they study and… I think I’m
in the middle class”.138
The top quote gives a bit of geographical knowledge of possible luxury bars and
-discotheques. They are seemingly positioned in Mexico City or Monterrey, from Leo’s
point of view, but apart from that the drinking places in the rest of Mexico is for
everyone and not only certain classes. This comment can tell us that Leo or the Mexican
society do not want to give special treatments to the rich in the environment of alcohol.
There is room for middleclass people or people with a little money. Either it is like that
from Leo’s experience or he is consciously subject positioning middleclass people like
himself in a more attractive light. This light could be a scenario in his head, where he
sees himself or his class, being just as privileged as the higher class.
Privileged is also the keyword in the second quote we present here. We have
experienced that Leo do not seem to position himself as being similar to the lower class
in any way and he is not part of the high class either. Leo believes that the middleclass
“is a little more prepared for life… they study”. The interpretative repertoires of Leo
give us an insight to what might be his true believes. He subject positions the
middleclass as the better class as he say; “I think I’m in the middle class”. In connection
with the class praising he seems a little proud of being part of the middleclass. Maybe
because they do not get anything handed to them and they study life in a more correct
way from Leo’s point of view.
Summary of discourse about social sphere
The three interviews tell us a lot about the different classes, and the interviewees usually
have a lot of sympathy for the lower class people or the less privileged. Leo is the only
one thinking that alcohol consumed by people of the lower classes is motivated by fun.
Leo Interview transcription, p.12
Ibis., p.11
But maybe due to the fast that the interview has been carried out in English which is not
his mother tongue, he misplaced the word “fun” with “joy”.
Jose and Roberto feel sorrier for the lower class people. Roberto seems to have
had some kind of bad experience with alcoholics in the Mexican areas he has visited or
lived in. He seems very eager to judge the poor people segment and does not give them
a lot of chances of being independent individuals with a will of their own. They are
seemingly just drunks that do nothing else but drinking because of their lack of
knowledge concerning finances and common thinking.
There is a general disliking of the high class among the respondents, but that is
not a topic chosen to be focused one in the project. Many people in the world strive to
be more fortunate and happy somehow and do not want to be like the poorest people in
a society, it’s usually like that everywhere. We all strive to be more enlightened and rich
in our own ways.
4.2.6 Gender and drinking discourse
The Females
The interviewees give attention to both the feminine and the masculine aspects of
drinking in Mexico, and try in connection with that to illuminate their own and the
society’s opinions in their talks. The first interviewee who gives us his view on the
feminine matter is Roberto:
“S: Women want to look nice and stay feminine so they don’t drink that much alcohol.
Sometimes they say I do not care I’ll have one, but they don’t act crazy.
I: And how is it regarding to society. How do people feel about women and drinking.
S: It’s completely bad absolutely bad.
I: Why?
S: Because then she doesn’t care about herself, she do not care what she’s like. She’s seen
as no one if she drinks too much.” 139
In this part of the Interview Roberto paints his picture of the ”right” woman in Mexico.
The woman in Mexico, seen from Roberto’s perspective, is one that drinks little, and
think that sometimes its all right to say; ’I do not care I’ll have one’, and then no one
will raise their eyebrows about that. Roberto however believes that society labels the
woman that drink to much, as a person who doesn’t care about herself’ and therefore
they are looked down upon and seen as ’no one’. Seemingly there’s no midway from his
Roberto Interview transcription, p.3
opinion, either woman ’look nice and stay feminine’ or they act absolutely ’crazy’ and
are careless about themselves. If it’s actually Roberto’s sincere interpretative
repertoires, and that’s the way he understands the true inner feelings of women who
tends to drinks. It might as well be his mothers or fathers opinion as Roberto states
earlier that; “Yes women do not like drinking. Most of the time out of respect from your
mom you don’t drink or at for example a wedding you drink one beer, only one or
two”140. So Roberto is in a ideological dilemma where he’s put in the same position as
the women who drink to much, it’s not seen appropriate to drink to much.
Jose is the next one we have chosen to give you an example from, states some
interesting things about Mexico and what some certain classes think about women and
“(…)if you compare with Denmark or some places… in Mexico the men drink much
more… much, much, much more than women. I think we are kind of conservative
society(…)from my point of view – from the middle could be middle/ medium-lower
class-…how can I say?... The aspect that we are conservative is sometimes it is not well
seen that women drink so much.”141
Jose compares Denmark and Mexico their different drinking traditions when it
comes to the difference between men and women. Jose uses the adverbial ‘much’ four
times to point out the big difference between men and women’s drinking habits in
Mexico. This tells us that Jose is a strong believer of this statement and that there is a
huge difference if we see it through his eyes. Jose’s interpretative repertoires also tells
that women in Mexico live in a very ‘conservative society’, where women are looked
down upon because it is not well accepted if ‘women drink so much’. Thereby Jose
subject positions “the middle/ medium-lower class” as conservative and as a segment of
people with different opinions. He also reveals his own opinion on the subject, when he
says ‘The aspect that we are conservative…’ He uses the pronome ‘we’ when he
explains himself which means that it might be his own opinion also. If that statement is
truly his own opinion, then it is to presume that some of the Mexicans who Jose know
would not be to happy if they e.g. heard about or experienced the Danish drinking habits
and the non conservative opinion to women and alcohol, which exists in the Danish
Roberto Interview transcription, p.3
Jose Interview transcription, p.5
The Males
Roberto has an opinion about the way Mexicans consume alcoholic beverages, which is
controversial compared to what he has stated earlier (in the section of social class
description and the poor people section): “S: If a guy is drinking a lot you will always
be seen as a alcoholic.”142 This means that whoever decides to drink a lot, will be
subject positioned as an alcoholic according to Roberto’s interpretative repertoires. It’s
creating a problem for him in general, to watch people getting drunk. This might stem
from his obvious despise against alcoholics or even be some kind of denial, if Roberto
have bad experiences with alcohol in his environment.
Referring to the matter of weekend-drinking Roberto’s believes:
“S: It depends, if you can handle yourself and have control of your drinking. But if you go
to the high, high class and look at the young people, most of them are drinking very
much, and some of them would say that they do not control alcohol but alcohol controls
them, so they are completely crazy.”143
In this quote is argued, that only those who have control over themselves are able to go
drinking in the weekends. Although Roberto fails to specify which persons he refers to
in particular, he reveals insight to the subject. He shows the interpretative repertoires
about young people and their comprehension of the concept of weekend-drinking. In
this quote, he subject positions the young high class people as being completely crazy
and not grasping any control of their body’s when consuming alcoholic beverages. In
the quote Roberto is not generalizing, because he argues that all the young high class
people is like that, but he is referring to ‘most’ of them when he states this. Roberto is
asked about hisown and his friends experiences on weekend-drinking but choose to
explain the habits of the high class instead. This might be a reflection of Roberto’s
unconscious opinion about the high class or his denials about people and drinking.
Leo on the other hand reveals us a more generalizing perspective of drinking and
gender in Mexico:
“S: Maybe that’s the way the culture is in Mexico, you know the man has to be the
strongest and the only one who can drink and a girl is very timid and weak. And I dunno –
that’s the way the culture is in Mexico.”144
From the perspective that Leo is experiencing, he describes the gender and drinking
issues as subjects which are cultural bounded. His argument is phrased carefully not to
Roberto Interview transcription p.2
Leo’s transcription p.4
sound very downgraded or demeaning when he recites ‘maybe’ in the beginning and ‘I
dunno’ (maybe because he is sitting face to face with a woman in the interview?). Leos
interpretative repertoires subject positions the man as ‘the strongest’ and the woman as
‘timid and weak’. He says ‘I dunno – that’s the way the culture is in Mexico’. Leo tells
us that the Mexican society looks down on the feminine character or maybe even sees
them as individuals with less free spirits. At the same time it could might as well be
Leo’s own opinion, but of course we can never know that for sure.
Our last participant comment in this part of the analysis is from Roberto. He
broadens his arguments even further. He tells us about himself and his drinking habits
and his interpretative repertoires gives us an insight, which we did not expect:
”S: If I drink I have to be absolutely stupid and if I don’t remember it’s even better. And
maybe I need some pictures to remember it the next day (...) because we are all friends
and that’s what it means to be friends, we support each others and call us brothers.
I: So is it also to be like a part of the environment? If you don’t drink your an outsider?
S: Yeah actually sometimes they say, ”aaah your such a coward, go with the girls
Roberto pictures himself when drinking, as being a ruthless person who acts ‘absolutely
stupid’ and he upgrades his statement by saying: ‘if I don’t remember it’s even better’.
In that way Roberto subject positions himself as being in the same category as the
young high class people he described earlier in the gender analysis, who ‘are completely
crazy’. He believes it is valid to be an idiot when drinking and to not think about the
consequences of ones actions afterwards, and even better if you don’t remember and if
you ‘need some pictures to remember it the next day’. We are witnessing the emerging
of an ideological dilemma. Roberto has earlier stated his uncensored generalizations
about the poor people segment and the young high class people as a “menace to
society”, but now Roberto subject positions himself as the one of the same people.
On top of his statements, Roberto believes that those of his Mexican friends who do not
want to drink will be viewed as cowards who should ‘go with the girls instead’. In that
way Roberto’s interpretative repertoires tells us that he subject positions both girls and
his nondrinking friends as ‘timid and weak’ and his opinion truly correlates with Leo’s
statement about the Mexican culture from earlier in the gender analysis part.146
Roberto’s transcription p.3
Leo Interview transcription, p.1
4.2.7 Discourse about national identity
Speaking of the cultural category of National Identity, Leo demonstrates that in his
interpretative repertoire he subject positions Mexicans as people who, despite having
access to foreign brands, prefer national brands: “…people drink more Mexican
beer“.147 He continues with his own attitude towards this topic by stating, “well, for me
– I think it tastes better in Mexico – Mexican beer. I don’t know why. I really like a
Mexican beer.”148 The fact that he cannot explain the reason for his perception shows
that he likes his roots especially when he continues saying from all the countries he has
been to, from all the beers he has tried there, “Mexican beer is very good.”149 He
identifies himself with the beer- Leo does not mention characteristics like quality or
taste- his idea is very subjective and abstract, and he gives no concrete reasons for his
preferences. A nervous laugh after his statement indicates to us, that he himself
acknowledges that his answer not entirely rational. Maybe this is because he has never
thought about it or it is because he just realized that his point of view concerning beers
he limited himself as a reason to “defend” his nationality- his origin- to show that
although he has been living abroad in several countries he still is a “real” Mexican. So it
is not about the taste, as he also says that although he likes Danish beer, he really misses
Mexican ones.150
Later when talking about different drinking habits amongst Danes and Mexicans
he again refers to himself as being a part of the Mexican alcohol culture by saying that
“…we drink just to get drunk but most of the times we drink just because it’s part of our
culture or we just want to chill…”151 By using and repeating the personal pronoun “we”
three times he illustrates, that within his interpretative repertoire, he subject positions
Mexicans as people with a deep desire to differ from the Danes. The stress is clearly
made to his identity and the society he feels close to.
Roberto supports this subject positioning of Mexicans with his personal
statement about the important drinking tradition that is to be found in Mexico.
“…whether you like it or not you will become loyal to something.”152 Regarding his
proposition there is no other way than to be like all the others who support a certain
Ibid., p.11
Ibid., p.10
Roberto Interview transcription, p.5
brand; people adapt drinking habits from their surroundings and most likely stick with
it. He, personally, differs from that as he identifies himself with foreign beers.153 He
argues, that they have a better flavor and quality.154 But this is then standing in
contradiction to his statement before- that there are no other ways. It is also to suspect
that he personally does not like to be like “all the others”, so exceptions are possible and
can be found, too.
According to José regional identity can be observed in some parts of the
country; e.g. “…in some places they have beer from the North- it´s more expensive but
Nordic people living in the South want that beer; “I prefer that beer.””155 He points out
that it is because of the connection the people have to the place where both the beer and
they themselves come from. This sounds reasonable since persons living far away from
home tend to miss a touch of home and compensate this feeling of loss with products
from their origin. He further speaks about his knowledge in regional differences
regarding the distribution of beers. He explains that although big breweries took over
small ones and the products were aligned, the names did not change so people could
still recognize their beer brand which they were used to.156
4.2.8 Frequency of Drinking
Leo subject positions himself as a frequent drinker, when asked about his alcohol
consumption habits, by answering “uhh- almost every weekend”157 , a laugh follows
this confession. In the next sentence he makes clear that some people also drink during
the week, but not him. He thus demonstrates that in his interpretative repertoire, there is
a difference of valuation between drinking in the weekend and drinking during the
working days. If a person drinks during the working days, he or she will be subject
positioned into the cultural category of “drunks”. Therefore it is important to him to
state this difference, so he does not look like a person with a drinking issue. But he also
mentions that people drink during the week in case of a day off or a special occasion.
Apart from that he explains that his background, his family, does not drink during the
week either- only in the weekends when all members unite together and may have a
dinner. So the drinking is not in focus. On the other hand he makes clear that when he
Ibid., p.9
José Interview transcription, p.4
Ibid., p.5
Leo Interview transcription, p.4
meets with his friends in the end of the week it is predictable to drink. “That´s for
sure.”158 It seems like drinking in the weekends is an integrated part in young peoples´
culture and life-style. But again not be as an unreasonable person, Leo is stepping
personally back from his testimony by explaining “they´ll like to get drunk”159- his
friends; and not always, but for special celebration days. By that statement he is
defending his friends´ and is showing maybe also his own behaviour. They like getting
drunk which is regarded as good within their peer group, but being aware that this
ideology might lead to misunderstandings for outsiders or the Mexican society in
general, Leo points out this behaviour does not happen too often, although he said
before the contrary by admitted the weekly frequency of alcohol consumption.
Roberto displays the way of drinking by making connections to different social
classes. He states that the biggest class in Mexico, which according to him is the lower
class, drinks always a lot of alcohol- “… from Monday to Monday”160, thus collectively
subject positioning all the people from this class within the cultural category of
“drunks”. They are not only consuming every day but also the entire day. This differs
very much from what he says about young people (students at university) from the
middle class; these persons are more careful and only consume in the weekends.161 Only
for special occasions this unwritten rule is broken, and only for one or two beers. The
younger upper class however he describes as problematic personalities whose parents
do not care for them because they are focused on their jobs, so they are “abandoned”
which makes it easy for them to “drink from Wednesday to Saturday.” 162 Considering
that he himself belongs to the middle class group which he described most positively
compared to the lower and upper one, Roberto had the desire to defend his own
background by pointing out the weaknesses of other groups. This stands in contradiction
to his further statement: “If I drink I have to be absolutely stupid and if I don´t
remember next day it´s even better. And maybe I need some pictures to remember it the
next day.”163 In this part he is describing exactly the behaviour of youngsters from the
upper class which he before strictly convicted. It is likely to say that criticism and
jealousy swing in his words while talking about the higher class which always seems to
be preferred. Reflecting Roberto´s own behaviour we can say that there are no
Ibid., p.5
Roberto Interview transcription, p.1
Ibid., p.2
Ibid., p.3
difference in the intensity of beer consumption between the middle and higher class,
only different perspectives while looking at them.
Furthermore comparing his own and Danish drinking habits Roberto does not
want to adapt the Danish way neither while being in Denmark nor when coming back to
Mexico. In this aspect he stays with his all-life known patterns that he grew up with.164
So at some point he is still sharing the perception of this mother country despite he had
lived abroad and is open to foreign beer brands. But the desire to be a part of a group is
stronger than new adapted habits.
Just like Leo, José subject positions Mexicans from the middle class as people
only drinking in weekends, when they are off work.165 Exceptions are made for holiday
festivals. He is telling also that his family although being middle aged or elderly people,
they still consume beer frequently. Most times in the weekends, but his maternal
grandfather (86years old) enjoys one litre daily.166 Considering that José does not
consume alcohol his telling is based on observations and subject positions. He chose to
live an alcohol free life, despite he has tried beer, because as he says he “can enjoy
without drinking”167 and he wants consciously avoid any trouble which may occur when
drinking excessively.
4.2.9 Knowledge/ Experience of Denmark
Talking about personal knowledge about Denmark before his arrival, Leo explains that
he did not have a lot of information about Denmark in his interpretative repertoires. The
only connotation to Denmark is that the weather there is cold. The reason why he
wanted to come to this new country is that he “…wanted to try something very strangeor very strange for (himself)”168 He spells out that in general people in Mexico do not
know very much about the part of the world, maybe they would not even now that it is
located in Europe. With this declaration he wanted to point out that it is not his own
fault not having this knowledge and also showing how the Mexicans are educated. He
himself had to defend his decision to go this unknown country to his close environment
because they could not understand. When he came here he experienced that Danes are
Ibid., p.9
José Interview transcription, p.1
Ibid., p.7
Leo Interview transcription, p.9
not that open minded as he is used to from people back home. He is disappointed which
is clear in his repeating words: “…it didn´t happen here.”169 In addition he shares his
experience by telling his people at home about the different attitudes towards alcohol
consumption. He subject positions Danes as always getting drunk - an idea he sees as a
significant difference which he therefore reports to his family back home in Mexico. On
the other hand he also experienced a new form of freedom by drinking alcohol in the
street in front of policemen who did not care about that.170 Unusual at first- Leo feels
comfortable with that way of independence in Denmark.
Before coming to Denmark Roberto knew very little about this country and
prejudices made out a huge part of this perception. He believed that the Danes are all
“blond, white and tall. They don´t like Latin American people.”171. He was told that
racism is common and family members where slightly shocked when he announced to
come here.172 The general knowledge which the Mexican inhabitants have about
Denmark is limited to prejudices and lacking information, a lot of people do not know
the geographical location of the country, and Roberto experienced, when buying his
flight ticket, that the agent in the travel agency thought it would be part of South
Concerning drinking habits Mexicans do know that it is very common to drink a
lot in Denmark.173 But still people do connect this with Scandinavia and Vikings which
are “described as rude and racists.”174 Roberto’s girlfriend was subject of a racial
attack in Scandinavia, this experience might have influenced his closer environment and
their thinking towards Northern Europeans. Other knowledge is almost not to be found.
In addition people do not know about Carlsberg beer; Roberto says that he has seen
commercials on TV while football matches but that was his only contact before coming
to Europe.175 After experiencing also the differences in alcohol consumption and
sharing this information with his father, he was told to be careful.176 This shows that the
Mexicans who do not have the opportunity to come on their own to Europe, they will
probably continue to believe in prejudices and single experiences and spread that
information to other people instead of having the possibility to create their own idea
Leo Interview transcription, p.10
Roberto Interview transcription, p.7
Ibid., p.8
regarding this part of the world. It supports that small countries are not well presented
neither in educational institutions nor in the media; having in mind that also his parents
had been to university.
Speaking of observation concerning attitudes towards alcohol consumption
compared between both relevant countries, José mentions that in Denmark the
inhabitants are more aware of drinking and driving.177 Knowing Danish beer brands in
Mexico is not common, he is sure that people who see the Carlsberg logo on shirts of
football players do not know what Carlsberg exactly is or where it actually comes
from.178 Nevertheless he mentioned just like Leo the nature of being allowed to drink in
public places. This must be a very remarkable difference when living in a country where
public drinking is illegal. He speaks about Danish knowledge to Mexican persons may
differ depending on what class they come from though if not having a specific relation,
e.g. arts or architecture, gained from a higher field, it is mostly unlikely that Mexicans
have a concrete image of Denmark and the Danish way of life.179
Summary of the analysis of interviews with Mexicans
living in DK
Referring to Brian Hansen, sales representative for Carlsberg, who said that Carlsberg
has difficulties entering the Mexican market because the Mexicans love their own beer
so much, after having analyzed qualitative interviews with potential Mexican customers
it can be concluded from their statements that there is a low national identity towards
beer brand preferences, unless they have moved away from their region- may it be
within the country or abroad. People drink national beer because they have access to it
and it is sold in all areas. Mexicans who spent time abroad have no rational explanation
concerning their preferred beer, it can be assumed that they want to have a feeling of
“home” which affects their preference. But within the Mexican territory the brand does
not matter.
Speaking of frequency of drinking it can be said that this cultural category
consists of social class and age matters. The social groups are separated into high,
medium and lower class which each have different connotations and habits towards
José Interview transcription, p.6
Ibid., p.8
Ibid, .p.9
alcohol consumption. Focussing on the young adults from the middle class, which all
participants come from, it has been observed that a certain contradiction between the
statements were made about other classes and the relation with them. One participant
first judges the “bad” behaviour people from the upper class have when it comes to
drinking and a bit later he describes his own similar behaviour but this time it is seen as
something “fun” and not negatively. This statement might either be the result of envy or
simply being critical with others and favouring the own class which is of course
definitely the one they know best and therefore they also have to defend it since it is
their own background.
In general the legal age for drinking is 18, despite most people’s likely tried
alcohol when they had been around 13-15, which is also the age of youngster who first
can buy beverages in shops, not legal though. It is most commonly to consume beer as a
soft alcohol for leisure times. The connotation when it comes to festive events liquor,
basically Tequila, Whisky and Vodka, is drunk. The category of foreign brands is
described as there is not a huge desire for “exotic” drinks, customers rather stick to the
well known. However this preference might also be due to higher prices for imported
beverages and the fact that it is harder to get access to them since foreign beers is
mainly sold in “special places” and mostly in the largest cities.
When it comes further to drinking habits and gender, conservative roles had
been revealed. Women drinking is often regarded as something unfeminine and bad. In
the Mexican society, there seems to be a collective cultural category concerning the
alcohol consumption by women. Within this category, women should behave, more
responsible and care-taking. The weakness of the gender is an underlying principle of
this category. In contrast, men are subject positioned as rather masculine when drinking
alcohol. They may act “absolutely crazy” and their behaviour although not seen as
entirely good, it is commonly accepted and normal. If women would act in the same
way their reputation would be low graded.
Since the interviewees were people who moved to Denmark, they had been
asked about their knowledge before they came to Europe. It turned out that a basic
knowledge in Mexico is limited to prejudices and shared experiences about products,
people, habits, life-style and political orientation. Only people under specific higher
education, e.g. architecture, gain deeper information about this part of the world- which
are often far away from actual reality (ref. Vikings). The respondents currently living in
Denmark, observes and experiences cultural differences which either support or enrich
their thoughts.
4.3 Core points from whole analysis
Low national identity with local beer brands, unless people moved to other
places and miss a piece of “home”
Frequency and intensity of alcohol consumption differ from social and age
Age groups can be divided into
teenagers (13-18 years)
young adults (18-30)
adults (30+)
Three social classes split the Mexican society:
- higher: few people; do what they like, can buy themselves free from drunk
- middle: 2nd largest group, often academic, responsible drinking behavior
- lower class: biggest part; waste they money on alcohol instead of saving
Gender are separated into conservative roles: women should be feminine and
drink less; men dominate alcohol consumption which is largely accepted and
People drink most commonly beer for leisure time; liquor is either Tequila,
Whisky or Vodka which are drunk in case of celebration and festive events, beer
is used as a starter and later they change to stronger liquor.
The Mexicans perceive the alcohol consumption as a positive social
phenomenon that takes places at gatherings, to share social events, as long as
one does not turn into an alcoholic.
The Mexicans associate dancing with consuming alcohol.
The Mexicans consume alcohol not to be drunk but to be happy – they seek the
feeling of happiness according to the respondents.
Foreign brands are hard to access; no desire for “exotic” experiences; higher
price might be reason to stick with national ones
Danish knowledge is very poor or even non-existent; prejudices and own or
shared experience rule the perceptions towards Danish matters.
The Mexican respondents have a strong connection to their national beer and to
some extent associate the Modelo and Sol brands to “the real Mexican beer”.
They have a curiosity for the foreign and “unknown” but place “the national” as
favorite and commendatory for their understanding of “the Mexican”.
In sum, the values associated with alcohol consumption by our respondents can be
illustrated in the following scheme of classification:
Alcohol Consumption
Positive valorization
Negative valorization
Party / Celebration
Get “wasted“
Finally to close the explorative study by answering the two research questions which
were introduced in the beginning, we start with question number one: What cultural
elements are relevant to beer consumption for the Mexican consumer?
In our analysis, we have found that true to our expectations, some Mexicans do
have a preference for their national beer brands. However, we have found that this
preference is not necessarily due to strong feelings of national adherence. More likely
these preferences stem from the low availability of foreign alternative and the natural
sence of familiarity with the Mexican brands that ensues. Contrary to our expectations
we found no signs of a discourse of adversity towards foreign brands. On the contrary
we found openness to new products and in some cases even preference for the taste of
Danish pilsner-beer compared to the Mexican light beers such as Corona and Sol.
In Mexico, beer is often used to quench thirst in leisure times or as a warm-up
before getting to stronger beverages in case of festive events. When it comes to these
occasions of celebration, liquor is integrated with it and it is not uncommon to see
people getting drunk. Alcohol and happiness go together, the feeling of having a good
time. People enjoy, chill and dance- not only women may be found on the dance floor
but also men. Dancing goes along with the good mood and idea of going out.
Apart from that, different gender roles in relation with alcohol consumption have
been observed. As Mexico is still a very conservative country, in the past it was mainly
men consuming both in public and private places. Society had a clear idea what is
appropriate when it comes to the use of alcohol, however a change in behaviour can be
found that women developed a more independent life-style in the past years which not
only contains free drinking habits but the right to study and work, also after marriage.
The gender roles are aligned in equality.
Despite openness towards alcohol, Mexicans have negative connotations to the
label of “alcoholic”. They are aware of not getting this bad reputation and state out
clearly that beverages are consumed in the weekends and are not part of daily life. Even
the storage of alcohol at home is mainly found with middle aged and older people to
whom good quality and joy of taste are the important aspects when drinking and not the
effect as a goal.
To answer the second question, why it is being so difficult for Carlsberg A/S
to increase their market share at the Mexican market, it can be said that is not a
cultural reason but rather a business issue. As we have gathered in the interviews,
people probably would consume foreign beer brands- foreign brands of liquor are
already standard- if they could. The main reason why it is so difficult to research the
potential Mexican customer is the tight market situation as described in the beginning of
the study. Carlsberg should look for another option to enter the market as well as
another marketing presentation. Actually on the Mexican Carlsberg webpage a lot of
Danish symbols and connotations are presented without explanations. As figured out the
knowledge about Denmark is very limited and most of the homepage visitor would not
understand the meaning and connection to Carlsberg beer. In a further discussion
suggestions to foreign companies that are interested entering the Mexican alcohol
market, Carlsberg in particular, are made.
6 Discussion
In the world of consumption, there will always be an ‘if’ and a ‘why’ for a company
that is entering a new market. The question posing is in thread with our hermeneutical
way of working with the project, which also in our case consisted of the ability to be
posing questions about our environment and materials in the process. In correlation with
the conclusion, we are going to move our final statements a step further by posing
ourselves these questions (if and why):
If Carlsberg were to enter the Mexican market, when having read our conclusion (and if
they believed our findings and results), then how could they preform their marketactions
differently? Or even better, how could they not do it? And to answer the ‘why’ question
we want to ask ourselves: Why would a company like Carlsberg want to enter the
Mexican market when it is so difficult to grasp entirely?
We reached an understanding in our conclusion, regarding Carlsberg and their lacking
ability of doing investigations properly, when it comes to knowing their true target
segment and what the specific consumption habits of the target group are like.
If Mexicans love beer nearly the same way as Danish people love their beer, then it
associates to an almost lovelike relationship. It may seem that way for an outsider, but
it’s far from the truth. Seen from a Danish perspective, then the national beer is not
favored any more than the little mermaid statue in Copenhagen is naturally favored and
loved more than the Admiral Nelson statue in Trafalgar square in London. It seems
natural for the majority of countries like both Denmark and Mexico to have a special
bond to some national products and at the same time be curious to foreign brands.
Carlsberg could use this curiosity and attempt to subject position the interpretative
repertoires of the Meicans into their advantage. The curiousity might be awakened by
doing Tv-commercials in general and banner commercials in Mexico city’s suburbs for
From our analysis, we have discovered that Mexican people seemingly have very
limited knowledge about Denmark and the Danes. And the knowledge that they do have
is very superficial and based on stereotypes. On the positive side, our (male) mexican
respondents associate Denmark with “beautiful women” and “first world country”, but
on a darker note, they also associated Denmark with racism and a viking-like, primitive
Based on this project, we are not able to predict whether or not these negative
connotations would actually affect the decision of whether or not to buy a Danish beer.
But if Carlsberg was to start advertising in Mexico, they should be aware of these
connotations before choosing to use Vikings as an element in their marketing strategy.
Another finding from our project is that a change in the perception of female alcohol
consumption seems to be emerging. From a quite conservative view on women as timid
and constrained, it seems that women more and more are starting to adopt the drinking
habits of men. If this is indeed the case, this “new” segment could present an opening
for new products to enter the Mexican market. Carlsberg could benefit by positioning
itself as a central part of this gender-equality discourse.
Though the Mexican market is a closed market, because of the duopoly of Grupo
Modelo and Femsa in Mexico, there seemingly are ways of bypassing these beer giants.
One of the subjects of our interview is talking about certain supermarket chains from
the US, who are selling foreign beers, and that he actually saw the Carlsberg beer being
sold there. In this way Carlsberg could enter both the US and Mexico at the same time.
Even though it is just a theory, then it is a quite different approach than the payoff,
which Carlsberg has been conducting so far, to the beer company Groupo Modelo.
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Gadamer, Hans-Georg, “Wahrheit und Methode”, Akademie Verlag, 1989
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Jørgensen, Winther Marianne and Phillips, Louise, “Diskurs Analyse”, Roskilde
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http://www.alcoholinformate.org.mx/saberdelmundo.cfm?articulo=191 (own
translation) 27.10.2008
http://www.ccm.com.mx 05.11.2008
http://www.cerveceroslatinoamericanos.com/Indice2008.pdf (own translation)
http://www.cnnexpansion.com/negocios/el-cambio-del-grupo-modelo/un-modelo-deperfeccion-que-intimida (own translation) 28.10.2008
http://www.conadic.salud.gob.mx/pie/ena2002.html (own translation) 20.11.2008
http://www.gmodelo.com.mx/index-1.asp?go=hoy (own translation) 05.11.2008
(own translation) 05.11.2008
http://www.gmodelo.com.mx/inversionistas/eventos/2007_05_23.pdf (own translation)
http://www.millwardbrown.com/Sites/millwardbrown/ 01.11.2008
http://www.millwardbrown.com/Sites/Optimor/Media/Pdfs/en/BrandZ/BrandZ-2008Report.pdf 01.11.2008
http://www.paho.org/Spanish/DD/PIN/A&SP.pdf (own translation) 22.11.2008
http://www.paho.org/Spanish/DD/PIN/Multicentrico_Espa%C3%B1ol.pdf (own
translation) 22.11.2008
http://www.reuters.com/article/ousivMolt/idUSN2634068020080526 25.10.2008
=s16h0FAAAADsl35TirMQSuo47LM4Xt7YyY_fbBR1Zt6Uxm4ESiOfZqdxwCQp5T7iokDF7hXNuGgRDM2L-ohSH8Sxfxr3jSbcVT3VtYGKLco-_l-8AzjQ 05.11.2008
http://www.wordreference.com/definition/hectolitre 17.11.2008
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