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Anthropology of Family Food Practices

Constraints, Adjustments, Innovations


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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From Village Agricultural Systems to Urban Middle Class Kitchens. The Detour, the Transposition and the Translation: the Three Skills of Professional Anthropology (Dominique Desjeux)


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From village agricultural systems to urban middle class kitchens

The Detour, the Transposition and the Translation: the Three Skills of Professional Anthropology

Dominique DESJEUX

Introduction: the ambivalence of social customs of anthropology

For the past 150 years, traditionally anthropology has worked most often on rural communities and concentrated on three major topics: real estate, the family and the magical-religious domain, as sources of production, food distribution and consumption.

However, after the end of the colonial period, in the 1960s, some anthropologists moved from studying village farming communities to looking at more individualised urban households in the United States, South America, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. It is this transition which allows us to understand how anthropology has been able to transpose its methods from the world of rural communities to that of urban communities.

Funding of field work was developed in line with this, and has partly gone from studies of the colonial administration to large private companies, public administrations and NGOs. This transition has generated debate within the university community, as illustrated by the debate on LinkedIn about the book Handbook of Anthropology of Business (2014) or the debate on qualitative methods (2009) on Liens-socio. All of this is healthy and to be expected, even if these debates are not always smooth.

The question could be asked what remains today of classic anthropology when modern anthropology or sociology are...

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