Roland Barthes and Pierre Bourdieu

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In “Toward a Psychosociology of the Contemporary Food Consumption”, Roland Barthes argues that food has more significance than a mere substance of consumption; he explains food as a means of communication. He explains that certain food suggest certain situations. For example, a regular loaf of bread may signify a day-to-day life, however bread such as pain de mie signify party. Barthes also describes food for what it signifies than for what it is. He explains further that there are three main themes of food: the commemorative, anthropological, and health. His example of a coffee advertisement giving an image of a break rather than the caffeine goes to show that food “transforms itself into situation.” He concludes by stating that our food affects culture and vice versa in a never-ending cycle. In “Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste”, Pierre Bourdieu discusses how the people in power dominate the idea of taste, an aesthetic concept. He theorizes that aesthetics is what creates class-based social groups and distances one class away from another. He emphasizes that it is the social origin, more than economic capital that produces aesthetic preferences. He elaborates that people are born into the already established cultural atmosphere and acquires a basic sense of taste at an early age; this marks the defining moment of their establishment of taste as an aesthetic concept. From then on, the people will become to like or dislike the aesthetic concept of taste of another class. However, Bourdieu points out that despite such dislikes, the tastes of the dominant class often dictate other classes forcing those economically and culturally dominated class to conform to the dominant aesthetics of taste for the fear of appearing crude, vulgar, or tasteless. In the case of Barthes’ argument, I agree that food have indeed become a source of communication however I still believe that the substance of food is of almost of equal value to the means of...
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