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Food Rules in the United States: Individualism, Control, and Hierarchy

Carole M. Counihan
Anthropological Quarterly
Vol. 65, No. 2 (Apr., 1992), pp. 55-66
DOI: 10.2307/3318134
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3318134
Page Count: 12
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Food Rules in the United States: Individualism, Control, and Hierarchy
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Abstract

College students in the United States reveal adherence to central cultural values through their ideas about food and eating. In their food journals they manifest concern with individual free choice in diet and self-control towards food so as to be thin, moral, and admirable. By adhering to an ideology that values thinness and self-control and that permits well-off people to decide what poor people should eat and men to determine what women should eat, students uphold the stratification of U.S. society which elevates men, whites, and the rich over women, people of color, and the poor. Awareness of cultural values embedded in food rules is an important step towards challenging the unscrutinized value system that supports social hierarchy.

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