Eating the rural other: The elevation of urban taste and class inequality in elite food discourse

Mapes, Gwynne Erin (2018). Eating the rural other: The elevation of urban taste and class inequality in elite food discourse (Unpublished). In: Sociolinguistics Symposium 22. Auckland, New Zealand. 27-30 June 2018.

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Food, like language, plays a central role in the production of culture; it is likewise a powerful resource for the representation and organization of social order. Status is asserted or contested through both the materiality of food (e.g. its substance and raw economics) and through its discursivity (e.g. the way it’s depicted and discussed). This intersection of language and materiality (cf. Shankar & Cavanaugh 2017) makes food an ideal site for examining the place of language in contemporary class formations (cf. Thurlow 2016). As a case in point, my paper examines a dataset of multimodal food texts (e.g. restaurant websites and signage, food reviews, and food tourism) drawn from an international selection of food producers-cum-consumers who explicitly self-style as the height of modern, cosmopolitan food practices and trends. Combining critical discourse analysis and social semiotics, I document the linguistic, verbal and material tactics by which stakeholders produce a discourse of elite authenticity indexed by, for example, claims to locality, sustainability, ethnicity, and especially rurality. This discourse hinges on the iconization, romanticization, and exploitation of agrarian life in ways that strategically (dis)avow elitist distinction. In fact, I argue that the production – and circulation – of this discourse erases the complex ethnic and economic realities of the rural Other (cf. hooks 1992), while elevating the privileged consumption practices of urban life and cosmopolitan elites. As such, particular ways of eating (and particular eaters) are hailed as simultaneously fashionable and socially/politically virtuous (cf. Kenway and Lazarus 2017), while covertly reinscribing privileged standards of good taste (cf. Bourdieu 1984) and class inequality.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Division/Institute:

06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures > Modern English Linguistics

UniBE Contributor:

Mapes, Gwynne Erin

Subjects:

400 Language
400 Language > 410 Linguistics
400 Language > 420 English & Old English languages

Language:

English

Submitter:

Leona Josefine Irmgard Goop

Date Deposited:

23 Jan 2019 17:40

Last Modified:

23 Jan 2019 17:40

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/122618

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