SOCI:302 Sociology of Food.

This course aims to introduce students to food as a sociological object. Food is a major determinant of survival and well-being, and an important indicator of social inequality. It is also a commodity: a source of profit and object of exchange embedded in market relations among consumers, retailers, processors, seed companies and farmers. Food is an art form—a kind of artistic expression and object—shaped and refined by a community of chefs and critics. More broadly, food reflects cultural values and functions as a signal of social position. Finally, it is a site and subject of politics: debate and struggle over modes of production, governance, trade, control and consumption. We will examine food through these five lenses, covering major debates within food politics and food studies on topics ranging from the cultural construction of “gourmet” food to obesity, hunger, factory farming, food safety, farm labor, the alternative food movement and the politics of food labels. In addition to academic texts, students will become familiar with the lively world of the food blogosphere, joining in themselves via a weekly blogging requirement. The course will conclude with research projects that will allow students to pursue a topic or question of deep personal interest. 4 SH.