Alternative Food as a Distinctive Way of Consumption: an Ethnographic Case Study of the reinvention of class boundaries in rural area
1Institute of Political Studies of Toulouse, France; 2CESAER, INRA de Dijon, France
This paper approaches alternative food consumption as a reinvented way of distinction (Bourdieu, 1969; Paddock, 2014). Buying local and organic food, reducing dependency on supermarkets and the market as a whole through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), cooperatives or gardening, does not solely nor necessarily depend on political “choices” but surely relies on socially situated tastes, social positions and trajectories.
Within the context of a Southern France working-class and agricultural rural area where we conducted a 5-years ethnographic study, it is through the creation of a CSA and a cooperative that the highly educated middle-class members reinvent cultural and symbolic boundaries (Lamont, 1992).
First, they draw cultural boundaries regarding low educated working-class members. Among other things, they consider those latter as “unable to” appreciate the “global” consequences of their daily practices. At the same time, they also dedicate themselves to working-class practices (gardening, home-made meats) that they combine with upper-class tastes (exoticism, contemplative view of nature).
Alternative food also draws boundaries within cultural middle-class between mainly politicized public employees who distinguish themselves from those whom actions and expectations are driven by “profit” making and the freelance workers or private sector employees closer to the “market” or more reluctant to endorse a political dimension. The morals of solidarity between consumers and producers, the free markets, etc. implemented in the CSA and cooperative we study tend to reinforce those boundaries.
Then, by approaching alternative food as a “metamorphose” of distinction (Coulangeon, 2011), we shed different light on both what motives the adoption of such emerging practices and on the ongoing making of social groups.
Ascend Of The Herbivores, Decline Of The Carnivores? The Social Stratification Of Food Consumption Profiles In Italy, 1995-2014
Department of Sociology and Social Research, University of Trento, Italy
To what extent dietary patterns are socially stratified in the population? How did the patterns of social stratification of food consumption change over time? This research aims to contribute to the literature on cultural stratification and food consumption by identifying different food consumption clusters and investigating how these clusters are socially stratified by gender and education. Moreover, it analyses how both the clusters dimension and the social stratification gradients have changed between 1994 and 2014, by providing a unique long-term longitudinal perspective in the social stratification of food consumption profiles. We use data from the ISTAT Multipurpose Survey of Daily Life, a set of cross-sectional surveys with a randomly selected, nationally representative sample of Italian families, amounting approximately to half million cases. We have applied latent class analysis on a series of eleven items on the dietary habits of Italians to identify 6 clusters of food consumption profiles (herbivores, carnivores, enhanced Mediterranean, paucivores, omnivores, and unhealthy) and multinomial logistic regression to estimate social differences in the propensity to adopt different dietary patterns. Results point to a substantial social stratification of dietary patterns and show that, within a broad picture of persistence, gender, and parental education became more important in affecting the propensity of adopting specific dietary habits (e.g. herbivore).
Improving Ways to Determine Whether Cultural Stratification Is Strong or Weak
Tampere University, Finland
Despite the ever-growing number of studies and publications, empirical cultural sociology focusing on cultural consumption and tastes and the way they are socially stratified has largely failed to provide systematic means to assess the degree to which findings from one study are different from others. While cross-nationally or temporally comparative studies are still rare and often suffer from limited measures, the more numerous national or cross-sectional studies are typically incapable of saying much about the context-specificity (national or historical) of their results. Either way, the question concerns not only the lack of comparable data, but also the lack of instruments to answer the fundamental question of whether the observed patterns of cultural stratification are strong or weak. Answering these questions require either external points of comparison or shared evaluative criteria that are applicable across different empirical settings. In this paper, I critically review the field from this perspective and discuss, as well as tentatively propose and empirically demonstrate, different instruments that can be used for improving this situation and thus bringing the field of cultural stratification closer to the more established, adjacent fields such as the study of economic inequality. The instruments discussed represent either very simple measures allowing comparisons of the “degree” of cultural stratification across time and space or a more complex means for adding detail and comparability to the often imprecise speech that “class counts”. An argument put forward is that these, or other similar, shared instruments are needed to advance the systematic study of cultural stratification.
They're a Fan but They're Not a Stan: Stratification and Belonging in Digital Music Fan Communities
Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom
When global digital music fan communities dwell and consume in heterotopic online spaces (e.g. Twitter and Instagram) they appear to do so in a ‘free’ and deregulated space, where their intentionality is to enact utopic desires of belonging in what individual fans see as a collective community. However, in the context of the digital economy, spaces of belonging such as music fan communities have gone through a ‘neoliberal turn’ whereby these spaces become stratified by distinctions and uses of social capital. Along with this reconfiguration, mainstream media outlets actively produce competitive and hierarchical discourses in which fannish ways of being are inscribed with competitive individualism by harnessing expressions of enthusiasm. In turn, such discourse places cultural value on right and wrong ways of practicing fandom. Based on my own primary research, this paper will determine the extent to which practices of consumption, uses of language and reciprocal orders of interaction with the object of fandom, have culturally stratified the ‘fan’ identity to suit the neoliberal ecology of popular culture.