Consumption in the Age of Affluence: The World of Food

Consumption in the Age of Affluence: The World of Food

Consumption in the Age of Affluence: The World of Food

Consumption in the Age of Affluence: The World of Food

Synopsis

The authors argue that in order to understand the extensive and dramatic developments in the world of food, a new interdisciplinary approach is necessary. The book aims to help revitalise the discipline of food studies.

Excerpt

The previous chapter has been primarily concerned with building upon existing food systems literature and upon the work of those who, at least implicitly, appear to accept the SOP approach even if with food as a special case. The argument emphasized the role of tendencies in (restructuring the food system and the distinctiveness of its dependence upon the organic content of food provision. The present chapter is first concerned with defending the food system approach against criticisms that the SOP approach is an invalid method for examining consumption in general. This, second, leads to the more constructive task of defining what constitutes the boundaries of one SOP as opposed to another. The results of the theoretical arguments presented will be deployed in later chapters when addressing the meat, dairy and sugar systems.

The SOP approach to (food) consumption provides a counterweight to recent studies of consumption. These have emerged within, and have often been inspired by, the intellectual milieu provided by post-modernist perspectives. Post-modernism has proved a fertile terrain on which to displace previous materialist preoccupations, rooted in production and determinism, and also to embrace the discourses of individual and social (de)construction. It is not that questions of power and work and of economic and social forces have evaporated altogether, but they seem to belong to some other world that provides the raw materials for the meaning rather than for the substance of our lives. For this reason, consumption has increasingly been situated within what we term ‘horizontal analyses’—those that range, in principle, across consumption as a whole and which address the immediacy of consumption itself. It is perhaps best exemplified by the analytical demise of the passivity that is assumed to be attached to Fordist mass consumption, and the birth of the nuanced tastes and niche markets generated and served by post-Fordist flexible specialization.

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