- Paperback ISBN: 9781552663196
- Paperback Price: $24.95 CAD
- Publication Date: Oct 2009
- Rights: World
- Pages: 222
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Alcohol, Surveillance and the LCBO 1927–1975
In this critical study of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, Scott Thompson and Gary Genosko expose the stakes and consequences of the enormous bureaucracy behind the administrative surveillance of alcohol consumption in Ontario. Since its inception in 1927, the LCBO subjected alcohol consumption to its disciplinary gaze and generated knowledge about the drinking population. This book details how the LCBO tracked all alcohol consumption and capitalized on technological advances in order to generate categories and profiles of individuals so they could “control” drinking in the province. While this is a historical project, it also investigates how categorical treatment of populations like First Nations helped to develop and foster stereo-types around addiction that persist to this day.
Introduction • Temperance, Business and Surveillance at the Birth of the LCBO • Self-Control and the Panoptic LCBO • Accountability: Reconstructing the Fragmented Present • A Kind of Prohibition, Part I: Social Sorting in Ontario • A Kind of Prohibition, Part II: The Application of the LCBO’s Interdiction List • Regulation of Gender Performances and the Interdiction List • From Indigenous to Indigent: Legal and Prototypical Classifications of First Nations • The Politics of Alcohol Surveillance
About the Authors
Gary Genosko is Canada ResearchChair in technoculture in the Department of Sociology at Lakehead University. He is the author of Félix Guattari (2009), editor of The Semiotic Review of Books and co-editor of Deleuze Studies.
Scott Thompson is a PhD candidate in sociology at the University of Victoria. In addition to his publications regarding liquor control, he has published material on National Registration in Canada and the UK.
Review of Punched Drunk
by Dean Tudor, Wine Writer
PUNCHED DRUNK; alcohol, surveillance and the LCBO, 1927-1975 (Fernwood Publishing, 2009, 222 pages, ISBN 978-1-5526-6319-6, $19.95 Canadian paper covers) is by academics Scott Thompson and Gary Genosko. It was published in late 2009, and to my knowledge, it has been ignored by the popular press, especially in Ontario. Indeed, it was not even published in Ontario. Conspiracy theories, anyone? Sure, it’s an academic book, but really, how many times does a book about the LCBO get published, especially one that slags the bureaucracy that is behind its “moral” and “regulatory” nature. It’s also a book about early computer technology, to wit, the punched (or IBM Hollerith) card, which arose out of the necessity of tabulating the US Census of 1890. In 1944, punched cards were used to track Permit holders and purchases, among other things. The LCBO was established in 1927 to regulate the sales of alcohol after prohibition ended. But “if the government was expected to be returned at the next and succeeding elections they had to make their law effective”. The government of the day could not permit “it to be shown that revenue was being generated from the ruination of families or creating drunkards.” Thus was born the Interdiction List, from 1927 to its official end in 1990. A total of 79,000 names were on this list. These people had all been sent a letter from the LCBO: their privilege to purchase liquor had been revoked. Any purchase or possession of alcohol on their part would be considered a criminal act. These people now had a new status: known drunkard. However, they did NOT know that copies of these letters were going out to every police station, bar, beer store and LCBO in their region! And their names and descriptions were being added to a province-wide circulated “drunk list”. It was a secret list, and once you were on it, you couldn’t get off unless you died. It’s an early example of citizen surveillance by the state. By 1944, the list had moved over to the punched card. They were indeed punched drunk. In 1927, the LCBO also established the green Permit book to track individual bottle purchases. My father had one: hey, it proves that he was NOT a drunk! By 1962 the Permits were gone, and by 1975 nobody was being added to the List anymore (although the frozen List was still around in 1990). Ontario was not alone here: there were similar laws and regulations clear across Canada, in parts of the US, and in other countries. Thompson and Genosko also wrote a couple of interesting sections here detailing treatment of women and First Nations drinking. It’s an academic book with some arcane scholarly references, graphs, and charts, appendix (Interdiction records regression analysis, 1953-1975), end notes, and the like. The book can be tough slogging if you are not an academic, but an index could help pull out all kinds of references for easier retrieval and reading. What a shame that there is no index, it would have been extremely useful. But there is also much more material at their website www.puncheddrunk.ca and here you can do a word search to pull out all kinds of interesting facts and documents.
Audience and level of use: historians of bureaucracy, consumer profilers, First Nations, hose who enjoy histories of alcohol, libraries.
Some interesting or unusual facts: From the LCBO Annual Report 1928-29: “Strict sobriety and clean living is not only essential to business success, but also worthwhile citizenship”.
The downside to this book: there is no index, which is a shame.
The upside to this book: there is a wealth of information about interdiction and attitudes. Also, the book serves as a partial history of the LCBO and its bureaucracy
Quality/Price Rating: 95.