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Anthropology of Family Food Practices

Constraints, Adjustments, Innovations

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Edited By Marie-Pierre Julien and Nicoletta Diasio

What are the factors that govern our food choices at the beginning of the 21st century? Obvious answers to this question would point to social and cultural habits, but the issue is far more complex than this. Changes in national and international economies, the end of political regimes, migration, but also micro-events such as retirement, the birth of a child, varying school times and seasons, or innovations in industrial design, these are all potential factors that may generate a transformation of family eating habits. The meso- and micro-social levels are deeply intertwined in everyday life, and this book focuses on the connections between the two levels and on how they merge and overlap in the creation of new eating habits. In this book the reader will find scholars who analyse how families and households experiment, circumvent and appropriate technical, political, and social modifications in their family food situations, and how they create freedom and innovation under constraint. Grounded in strong ethnographic field research in several countries (Belgium, France, Italy, Norway, Romania, South-Africa), this book is also a contribution to the use of qualitative methods within the domestic space. It will be a welcome source of information for researchers and students in the fields of anthropology and sociology, for industrial designers and for any reader interested in studying social changes from the perspective of food practices.

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Food Habits in Post-Socialist Romania. Between Shortage and Abundance (Anda Georgiana Becut)

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Food Habits in Post-Socialist Romania. Between Shortage and Abundance

Anda Georgiana BECUŢ

Introduction

The food habits of Romanian families in post-socialist Romania can be understood and explained only in relation to the food habits and practices observed during the socialist period and in relation to other changes in Romanian society after the fall of the communist regime in 1989. In Romania, during socialism, food was a political instrument of control and constraint, exploited to create loyalties and provide privileges for the most prominent figures of the nomenklatura (high-ranking members of the Communist Party). During the last years of the communist regime social relations gravitated around food, which had become pivotal because of the scarcity of food products. Hunger was a social reality and queues for food were a dominant scene on the streets of Romanian cities. As Susan Brownell (2005) showed in her study on Chinese society—which was very similar to Romanian society during the socialist period—food was not something to be taken for granted as it played an important part in people’s assessment of social relations, future survival and success. According to Klein et al. (2009: 1): “Across the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe during the socialist period, food emerged as a practical symbol and medium for articulating both successes and failures of socialist ideals of progress, equality and modernity”.

The political, economic and social changes following the fall of the communist regime modified Romanians’...

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