Chapter 1

Approaches to the study of food, health and identity

Pat Caplan

In this introduction, I seek to suggest ways in which social scientists can begin to make sense of the bewildering variety of eating practices discernible in one western society today—Britain. The chapter begins by outlining how anthropologists have approached this topic, looking particularly at the legacy of the structuralists as well as their critics who adopt a more historical and materialist approach, and then turning to some more recent post-structuralist approaches. It next examines three themes which arise out of the papers in this volume: changing food practices and their implications, food as a marker of identity and difference, and the relationship between food and health. The discussion also includes issues which have recently become significant such as risk and lifestyle. The chapter argues that the study of food reveals our social and cultural selves, as well as our individual subjectivities.


FOOD AS LANGUAGE, FOOD AS SYSTEM

Anthropologists began to write a good deal about food with the rise of structuralism in the 1960s, 1 particularly following the work of Lévi-Strauss (1965, 1968, 1970). He and his followers sought to understand food as a cultural system, an approach which clearly recognises that ‘taste’ is culturally shaped and socially controlled. There is by now a considerable literature influenced by his structuralist approach which treats food as analogous to language, and examines the ways in which its meanings can be grasped from an understanding of symbol and metaphor. Lévi-Strauss maintained that food was ‘good to think with’ and that deciphering the codes underlying such matters as food enabled the anthropologist to reach ‘a significant knowledge of the unconscious attitudes of the

-1-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Food, Health, and Identity
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 280

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.