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Lecture 2

antb64- week 2- reading 1 notes

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Jessica Taylor

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ANTB64- Week 2- Reading 1 Toward a Psychosoiciology of Contemporary Food Consumption Roland Barthes – Inhabitants of the Us consume almost twice as much sugar as the French – Sugar permeates a considerable part of American cooking; it saturates ordinarily sweet foods, such as pastries; makes for a great variety of sweets served, such as ice creams, jellies, syrups; n is used in many dishes that French ppl do not sweeten, such as meats, fish, salads, n relishes – Sugar isn’t just a foodstuff, it is, an ‘attitude’ bound to certain usages, certain ‘protocols,’ that have to do with more than food – Serving a sweet relish or drinking coke with a meal r things that r confirmed to eating habits proper – Thru sugar, it also means to experience the day, periods of rest, traveling, n leisure in a specific fashion that is certain to have its impact on the American – Sugar or wine, these 2 superabundant substances r also institutions ○ These institutions necessarily imply a set of images, dreams, tastes, choices n values – The subject of food connotes triviality or guilt – M.Perrot: economic factors played a less impo role in the changes that have taken place in middle-class food habits in the last 100 years than changing tastes; n this really means ideas, especially abt nutrition – The development of ads has enabled the economists to bcome quite conscious of the ideal nature of consumer goods; by now everyone knows that the produc as bought—that is experienced—by the consumer is by no means the real product; b/w the former n the latter there is a considerable production of false perceptions n values – What is food?: ○ Its not only a collection of products that can b used for statistical or nutritional studies ○ Also a system of communication, a body of images, a protocol of usages, situations, n behavior – Info abt food must be gatheres wherene it can b found: by direct observation in the economy, in techniques, usages, n ads; n by indirect observation in the mental life of a given society – When he buys an item of food, consumes it, or serves it, modern man duznt manipulate a simple object in a purely transitive fashion; this item of food sums up n transmits a situation; it constitutes an info; it signifies ○ That’s to say, that isn’t not just an indicator of a set of more or less conscious motivations, but that it is real sign, perhaps the functional unit of a sysrem of communication – Food is the first needs ANTB64- Week 2- Reading 1 ○ Substances, techniques of preparation, habits, all bcom part of a system of differences in signification; n as soon as this happens, we have communication by way of food – Ppl may vary well continue to believe that food is an immediate reality (necessity or pleasure) – If food a system, wat r the units?- If units of our system of food rnt the products of our economy, wat is it? ○ Study by P.F.Lazarsfeld: certain sensorial ‘tastes’ can vary according to the income level of the social grps interviewd- lower-income persons like sweet chocolates, smooth materials, strong perfumes; the uppoer classes, prefer bitter substances, irregular materials, n light perfumes  Signification duznt involve kinds of products, but flavors: sweet n bitter – Reconstructing the systems of food: syntaxes (‘menus’) n styles (‘diets’) – Food not only refers to display, but to a much larger set of themese n situations – 1 can say thtat the entire ‘world’ (social envi) is present in n signified by food – Today we have a tool with which to isolate these themses n situations, namely, ads – No question that ads provides only a projected image of reality; but the soiciology of mass communication has bcome increasingly inclined to think that large-scale ads, even though technically the work of a particular grp, reflects the collective psychology much more than it shapes it – A rapid glance at food ads permits us rather easily to identify 3 grps of themes st 1. 1 assigns to food a function that is, in some sense, to partake each dat of the national past a. In this case, this historical quality is linked to food techniques (preparation n cooking) b. Historical theme: in one hand it implies an aristrocratic tradition; on the other hand, food frequently carries notions of representing the flavorful survival of an old, rural society that is itself highly idealized
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