Modernization of Sugar

Topics: Sugar, Sociology, Max Weber Pages: 4 (1250 words) Published: December 15, 2014

Modernization from Consumption of Sugar

According to Wikipedia, “modernity” is defined as a post-traditional period that is marked by the move from feudalism towards capitalism and industrialism. From the sixteenth century through the nineteenth century, many countries and economies progressed towards a more modern environment. Many factors contributed to the push for modernity; however, the sugar industry exhibited major influence throughout the world. Once sugar cane was established in the Caribbean, this new crop pushed the region to shift from a traditional agrarian economy towards a more industrial and capitalistic economy. The new production process made sugar readily available for the first time in history, which allowed this crop to become a commodity to be enjoyed by all classes. Its outdated usage for decoration and medicine vanished as the crop took on new uses as an everyday necessity. Specifically, the consumption of sugar helped define the true meaning of “modern” through the transformation of its usage, establishment of status and group boundaries, and its effect on gender norms and national identity. The modernization of the sugar production process in the Caribbean increased the quantity of sugar available, which drastically changed the way sugar was viewed and used on an everyday basis. Before the Caribbean was an established settlement, “sugar was really the monopoly of a privileged minority” and was primarily used for medicine or decorative purposes (Mintz 45). Previously, “the habit of using sugar as decoration” was commonplace due to its unique characteristics, namely its pure white color and preservable nature (Mintz 87). These two aspects of sugar contributed to the “relative ease with which other edibles can combine with it, whether in solid or liquid form”, making it a decorative food (Mintz 87). Because sugar has become controversial in modern discussions of health, diet and nutrition, “it may be difficult to imagine its...


Cited: Douglas, Mary. "Deciphering a Meal." . The MIT Press, n.d. Web. 2 Apr 2014.
"Modernity." Wikipedia. 2014. .
Sidney, Mintz. Sweetness and Power. Penguin Books, Print.
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