Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN07_06: Sociology of Culture: Wine
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Siobhan Kattago, University of Tartu
Location: GM.335
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road


Wine, Women and Globalization: Borders, Barriers or (Cultural) Belongings?

Anna-Mari Almila

University of the Arts London, United Kingdom

Globalization processes often operate in ways that are highly gendered, and many of the consequences of these processes are unpredictable and unintended. One interesting consequence of the increasing interconnectedness of wine worlds across the planet has been the rise of women inside the wine industry. When wine-making operated as a solely or primarily agricultural, traditional, and earth-bound practice, it remained highly bound by localized patriarchal structures. While many such structures (as well as new forms of gender discrimination) abound, yet various changes in the processes of wine production, distribution, mediation and consumption have created new opportunities for women to operate in wine worlds and cultures.

In this paper, I draw together different factors to do with wine and gender, which today are thoroughly bound up with globalization processes. How do women drink wine or are expected, allowed, or not allowed to drink it? How are women supposed to taste wine and how do they choose wines? How is wine marketed to women? And how does gender operate in wine mediation, such as in the case of the sommelier, which as a professional category is highly globalized and exists across locations and national contexts? I argue that many female wine experiences are both enabled in the first place and also shaped by forms of mobility: geographical, social and cultural. As cosmopolitan women travel, move abroad, and claim new spaces and experiences in globalized wine worlds, they cross boundaries, counter barriers, and, eventually, create forms of belonging.

Symbolic and Social Boundaries in the Field of Natural Wine in Italy

Mario de Benedittis

Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy

The paper i'm proposing results from a research on the wine field in Italy, and try to reconstruct the subfield of "natural wines" in Italy, combining a Bourdieusian approach and practice theory. The research was conducted (and still is) with a plurality of methods (In-depth interviews and life stories, surveys, ethnographies) moving from a posture of enactive ethnography, as - during the years - a Sommelier AIS, a Committee member for the "Gambero rosso" wine guide 2018 (therefore in 2017), a wine selector for a national distribution, a member in a Whatsapp group composed by journalists, producers, bloggers, wine enthusiasts who organize at least one tasting per week.

First of all, the paper identifies the field actors and boundaries: winegrowers, associations, journalists, distributors, specialized wine fairs, and questioning what is the position of the subfield of natural wine in the whole wine filed in Italy.

Then, it tries to reconstruct not only the various positions in the field, but also the positions-taking: how is "naturalness" defined by discourses and in production practices? To which other practices naturalness is opposed? Which kind of producers declare themselves natural? Are there trajectories that are common to producers who declare themselves natural and, by homology, distributors and trade fair organizers?

What is the capital composition of the actors of this field? It seems to require a high rate of cultural capital and less consistent life trajectories than the "conventional" ones.

Towards A Cultural Sociology of the Global Grapevine: Understanding what Wine Labels and Globalization Reveal About Each Other

David Inglis

University of Helsinki, Finland

The contemporary wine industry is both a multi-billion Dollar enterprise, is strongly globalized in multiple ways, and is thoroughly intertwined with much wider trans-national social, economic, political, legal and cultural processes. Geographers, anthropologists and other social scientists are very well aware of this. Yet wine attracts relatively little attention from sociologists in general and cultural sociologists in particular. This paper contributes to the creation of a broader cultural sociological approach to the study of globalized wine production, distribution and consumption by focusing, in the manner suggested by Georg Simmel, on an apparently trivial but acutely deeply significant phenomenon: the wine label. Wine labels do not only express various aspects of globalization, they also variously picture, dramatize, disguise and help bring into being manifold aspects of a complex cultural economy of liquid pleasures. Examples of wine labels from different parts of the world are analysed from a cultural sociological perspective, so as to bring out both their more and - especially - less obvious capacities, affordances and ramifications within globalized and trans-national networks and flows. The ambiguities and contradictions of constructions of oenological locality and globality are highlighted. So are attempts to create cosmopolitan profiles while accentuating the hyper-localised and autochthonous nature of one’s wine offerings. (Sociologically-inflected tasting notes may be provided, and anthropologically-sensitive suggestions for food pairings offered.)