Category Archives: Summer Blog Entry 1

Sociology on the Menu

Beardsworth and Keil outline three different approaches to studying food in their Chapter “Sociological Perspectives on Food and Eating,” which include functionalist, structuralist, and developmental. They provide an analogy that defines functionalist approach in a way that strongly resonates with me. They compare it to a body where organs each have a separate role, but together are able to make the body as a whole function (58). Furthermore, they explain that the “functionalist theory makes an important distinction between the manifest function of some feature (i.e., the function explicitly recognized by members of the society in question) and that feature’s latent function (i.e., a function that a feature may fulfill, but which may not be recognized or admitted by society’s members)” (58). Essentially, it is like a machine, each part must work together for the machine to work properly, and this approach is the examination of each part of the machine.

Beardsworth and Keil detail how different the structuralist approach is from the functionalist, focusing on Lévi-Strauss’s explanation, who claims that the functionalist approach is more of a surface examination of a culture, while the structuralist aims to determine the underlying structure that would not be seen by the common eye, but rather by examining the rules of cooking, for example (61). Thus, in studying how and why the rules were made, one can gain a deeper level of understanding of the culture.

Lastly, the authors define the developmental approach as an idea that is more residual, and that “can be placed a range of approaches which exhibit some common features and preoccupations,” and furthermore, “that any worthwhile attempt to understand contemporary culture forms or patterns of social relations must take into account the ways in which these are related to past forms” (65). Essentially, studying the way society and culture has developed over time and how food has changed with it.

An alternative representation to the developmental approach that would help me better understand material would be to create a timeline of a recipe. Food culture so often is learned from a parent, a grandparent, a sibling, or a friend, who shares a recipe. From that recipe, maybe one forgets an ingredient, or accidently adds too much flour, or etc.… any small change in a recipe can greatly alter the final product! Thus, creating a timeline where we compare how one recipe is made from one person, to another, and additionally adding in important historical aspects to later analyze whether the change was accidental or of historical/cultural significance could be an interesting way to see the developmental approach unfold. For example, my grandmother used to make homemade chocolate brownies. My mom learned the recipe, but after meeting my father he suggested adding in chocolate chips. When I learned the recipe, I learned it with the added chocolate chips, but I poured 1 tablespoons of vanilla extract because I did not realize there was a difference between tablespoon and teaspoon. (I was 6.) Now, whenever my family makes baked goods, we triple the amount of vanilla extract required. After creating this simple timeline, I cannot wait to see if my child ever learns the recipe, and if so, if he/she will alter it in some way!


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The passage that I am responding to today is the chapter 3 from the Social Dimension of the food system. From the chapter, it mainly discusses 3 approaches to the food studies, the functionalism, structuralism and the developmental approach.

The first approach was the functionalism. It possesses the feature which is an analogy like a living body or a living organic system. It basically suggests that everything in the society was composed by many distinct things that come together and form a holistic unity. This way of approaching the society or more specifically speaking, to the food studies, remind me of my father’s old story. When I was 4 years old, one day, my father brought me back from the kindergarten and started to talk to me seriously. He told me whole chunk of stuff that I don’t even understand, so I let him to make it simple and he told me that the leader in his company gave him an promotion and he needs to go to some rural area for 3 years. Then I asked why do the company wants you not others to go there. Then he explained to me that everyone one in the society plays their unique role, a person is like a brick, when somebody wants to build a beautiful castle, we need to put ourselves in different positions so we can form the beautiful castle. So I can totally understand that every process of the food are like the organs of the living human being and thus it made the whole foodways.

The second approach was the structuralism, basically, it looks a little bit similar to the first one, which is the functionalism. However, inside, the two ways to approach the food studies are totally different. Unlike the functionalism showed the connection of the society from the surface, Structuralism focused below the surface. It showed the connection or linkage deep down from the thing itself. That means the supporters of the structuralism paid more attention to the core of the food studies. It get the chance to approach it from the inside. That is the spirit of structuralism.

The last one is the developmental approaches. This certain type of approach is the newest fashion in sociological studies. It conveys the idea that with the development of the society, the things you are used to live with will change with the society. Thus when it applies to the food studies, it basically proved that with the change of the cultures and the society, the menu you are eating everyday will change too.

The one I found the most representative is the last one, developmental approach. This approach just correspond to what my family has happened during these years. When I was a little kid, the family recipe was filled with meat, pig, lamb, beef, shrimp, all kinds of the meat were cooked and served in the table. According to what my grandmother said, they suffered a lot when they were little, always mal-nutritious, dehydrate, could not fill their stomach because there was nothing for them to eat. They were even forced to eat roasted insects to make them stop feeling hungry. So she cooked all those meat in order to make me and my cousins get enough nutrition. So our family traditional menu was 70% meat, 20% carbohydrates and 10% vegetables. However, as time goes by, when I grow up and become a relatively fat guy. My mother started to make changes to the menu, I stated to learn from the westerners to ear healthy, I started to have avocado in my salad and replace rice with sweet potatoes. All those changes in my menu was from the internet where I learn and make those changes. That is why I find the last approach accords to all my experiences in food and diet.

From Hunters and Gatherers to McDonald’s Fiends

Food is a crucial commodity that has been built into our social structure, but I rarely take the time to think about food, where it was produced, or how many hands my steak has touched before it lands on my plate, I just eat it. As human beings, we rely on food as a source of energy, a means to grow and repair damaged tissue, and as a mechanism to regulate bodily functions. I need my steak to grow big and strong. Chapter 3 “Sociological Perspectives on Food and Eating” from Alan Beardsworth and Teresa Keil’s book Sociology on the Menu: An invitation to the study of food and society explores the social constructs of the human food system via the functionalist approach, the structuralist approach and the developmental approach. The functionalist approach: There was a great example of functionalism at the beginning of the chapter when the authors discussed a diagram adapted from a model offered by Freckleton, Gurr, Richardson, Rolls and Walker.
from Sociology on the Menu chapter 3
from Sociology on the Menu chapter 3
This image shows different aspects of the food industry and how they are linked. This is a great way to explain the functionalist approach. The functionalist approach is based upon the idea that in the society we have established, we have various institutions that serve a particular purpose. There are retail outlets to distribute food to the consumers. There are imports to help us obtain the materials that we may not have on hand. There are fisheries to supply the seafood demand. In other words, the institutions that society has established as part of the food system function much like the human body, or any organism at that. Just as organs in the body allow for normal bodily function, the different institutions of the food system allow for food to be produced, processed and allocated in an effective manner.
One study I found interesting was Radcliffe Brown’s 1922 study of the Andaman islanders and how their rituals and taboos functioned to disseminate norms to individuals in the community. The structuralist approach: When reading this chapter, the way I explained structuralism to myself was that it is similar to functionalism in that it is concerned with cultural constructs, but rather than being concerned with the functional significance of each construct, it is more concerned with the motivations behind such constructs. The analogy used to explain the structuralist approach is linguistics.
In order to form a coherent sentence, there must be a subject and a predicate. Underneath the construct of language lies a set of rules that we must follow. Why? Because if we didn’t have these rules, communication would not be possible. Many such underlying rules influence the food system. One example that was mentioned earlier in the chapter was the taboo of cannibalism, the consumption of human flesh. The idea of it just gives me chills. Although human flesh is technically edible, culturally we have forbidden it. The British government had outlawed cannibalism in the early 1800s, and although the United States does not have any laws against cannibalism directly, I’m sure it violates some law regarding murder and being eaten involuntarily. The structuralist approach deals with attitudes as much as it deals with the social institutions themselves. One issue with this approach is that it assumes that underlying relationships are static, which is simply not true.  In fact,  Goody suggests The sheer need to eat food is not enough because we eat with our minds as much as with our mouths and I’m not sure about you, but the idea of eating creepy crawlies or other people or even my dog makes me sick to my stomach. The developmental approach: The developmental approach seems mostly concerned with how food systems have evolved over time.
We started as hunters and gatherers. Now we go through the McDonald’s drive-thru. Might still be beef, but the methods of cooking and definitely of obtaining the food have evolved dramatically. This is much like Goody’s study of the two ethnic groups in northern Ghana. Though they maintained their traditional cuisine, their methods of preparation were very different due to the spread of Western influence. In my personal experience, my mom and I used to make mooncakes from scratch for the Chinese Moon Festival. During our first few years in the States, my mom didn’t work so we made mooncakes for three days in preparation for the festival. This past year, I was at school, so I couldn’t make mooncakes, but I purchased them from H-Mart instead. The developmental approach encompasses so many different dimensions of the food system. We could explore how different foods confer social status and how the view of these foods have changed over time. We could explore how changes in technology have effected food packaging and preparation. The possibilities are endless.

Three Sociological Perspectives (Post I)

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Last week’s reading, “Sociological Perspectives on Food and Eating” (chapter III), discussed three primary approaches when studying food: functionalist, structuralist, and developmental.

According to the article, the functionalist approach is how each aspect is responsible for its own “maintenance and continuity”, but stresses a holistic perspective (thus, the subject is more than the sum of its parts: the relationships and levels of dependency create the subject, as well as the various ‘ingredients’). Functionalism also includes differentiating between manifest functions and latent functions: manifest functions are explicit and observable by society, whilst latent functions are implicit and are not directly observable by society. Furthermore, there is a possibility for disequilibrium: dysfunctional functions disrupt the structure (and have alternative results). In the relationship between food and society, functionalism focuses on the importance of food and nutrition in cultures (such as how food is allocated and produced).

I interpreted functionalism as being similar to computer components: there are individual pieces in a computer that have particular responsibilities, but the sum of the pieces does not equal a ‘computer’ per se. The relationships between the computer (such as the input from the keyboard or the output from the screen) allow for the computer to behave properly, and malfunctions with certain components create dilemmas for these relationships. Furthermore, there are ‘manifest’ functions (such as typing on the keys to produce output on the screen) and ‘latent’ functions (such as the electrical charging in the internal wiring) in computers as well. In a societal context, computers represent how information (rather than food) is allocated, produced, and consumed. I chose this particular example because I am familiar with how various parts of computers interact with each other, and that computers are more than the sum of its parts (the pieces themselves-if not constructed properly-are most certainly not a computer).

Structuralism, on the other hand, is a more in-depth approach that analyzes the “deep structures” underneath the ‘superficial’ relationships studied by functionalism. In other words, the structuralist approach examines the organization and operations of ‘human thought’ (as it were) and societal intricacies. Unlike functionalism (where the emphasis was on the social processes involved in gathering food and societal ramifications), structuralism focuses on procedures that dictate how food interacts with other food, as well as how they are prepared and labeled (i.e., cooking). Thus, structuralism can be divided into two sections: ‘universal’ (relationships between food) and ‘individual’ (differences in norms and rules that dictate the classification of food).

In regards to structuralism, the reading’s analogy of Saussure’s interpretation of language was the most informative example. As a linguistics major, I understand that grammar does not necessarily mean the prescriptivist rules learned in school. Rather grammar, similar to structuralism, can be broken down into two sections: the cross-linguistic patterns that encompass all languages (such as all languages have a subject/verb/object order [not necessarily in that order]), but there are also unique rules that govern each language (such as Italian’s inclusion of person in verbs compared to English’s rule of explicit mentioning of person). Also, there are ‘superficial’ and ‘deep’ structures in language (semantics and pragmatics incorporate phonetics, morphology, and syntax amongst cultural cues to illustrate more complex interpretations of language). As previously mentioned, being a linguistics major helped me to view structuralism from this perspective, thus I found this analogy particularly helpful.

Lastly, the developmental approach breaks from the explicit viewpoints as previously discussed. Instead, it dictates that there is a ‘spectrum of approaches’ that illustrate mutual characteristics. Furthermore, the developmental approach is particularly notable due to its primary rule: to understand cultural patterns in relation to society then previous portrayals of these patterns must also be analyzed. Thus, in order to understand the current status of cultural features, one must understand how they came to be and existed in the past.

Although I am not well-versed in the history of fashion, I interpreted the developmental approach as being similar to the progression of the fashion industry. In order to understand what colors, designs, and/or patterns are ‘in season’, it is necessary to know what was popular in the past and to hypothesize trends based on these past experiences. The beginning point of certain styles, such as stressed jeans or stiletto heels, allows for those in the industry to cater their products for their customers while those who lack historical precedence don’t have a complete grasp over their audience (i.e., could potentially repeat products or create products previously found desirable). I specifically chose this example because I remember how my own fashion sense has changed over time, and I have noted that certain patterns that I currently perform have roots in what I have done in the past (such as wearing certain dress patterns).

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Chapter 3 of Sociology on the Menu, describes three very interesting ways of approaching food.

The first is the functional approach. It describes human society and food according to their functional significance. It shows how each element embodies two functions one which is visible, recognizable while the other is something subtle or ‘latent’.

The structural approach delves deeper and explores the various structures of human society. It says that each rule for example is a language of its own describing the intricacies of the human mind and society. Thus plates of food and how they are prepared show the intricacies of each of their taste and structures.

The developmental approach is more of the evolutionary kind. It shows how change has driven the culinary world to the specialized menus we see today. It shows how dietary restrictions and preferences have enabled formation of menus that cater to every special need.

According to me the functionalist approach describes functionalism in a way that it assigns roles to every element, without which the object or in this case society would not be able to function. Just like that this piece of Lego Architecture is not complete without every piece playing its role or function perfectly.



The structural approach defines the structure of society. It delves beyond the surface and shows the composition of human society, food and culture. It differs from functionalism in the sense that it does not show interrelation but individuality in the societal structure.


The developmental approach is brought about by change. It shows the change in the different eras of time and it is what has brought human society here today. I figured that since the developmental approach caters to the changing needs of human society the best way to describe it was through cars. The manual gear box was being used but as technology improved we wanted something that was more user friendly and thus the automatic gearbox appeared, which is being used today.


Soylent: An Experience Without Food

To begin, there are three main ways to examine the structure of our social relationships with the food. Functionalist thinking looks at how each part of of a system contributes to the system as a whole. These features or their effects on the system may be classified as either manifest, recognized in the community for its contribution, or latent, not recognized or dismissed. In relation with food, functionalism looks at the way we interact with food and how that has shaped our social interactions and cultures.

The next way of thinking is called structuralism. It focuses on the ideas and materials that make up what is being examined. The underlying processes that contribute to the final product is the basis of what is being examined in structuralism. With food, we look at the combination of ingredients, the preparation of meals and how this amalgamation creates social meaning.

Developmentalism examines and compares past forms of operating to current forms. In order to understand why and how things operate as they do today, we must first understand how things were done in the past and how they have changed or adapted to become what they are today.

In order to further examine the functionalist approach to examining food systems I will share a story of how I adopted Soylent and deprived myself of “food” and thus the social integrations that come along with it.

What is Soylent? Soylent is an idea thought up by someone that lived a busy life and wanted to find a way to eliminate all the inconveniences of eating without losing the nutrition we gain from doing so. In order to make this possible, he did research on all the essential macro and micronutrients and vitamins that our bodies need at the base level in order for us to go about our day. He came up with a list of ingredients that he thought would fulfill this recipe for that which would be just enough to fuel us during a regular day. With trial and error, he finalized his recipe and started a Kickstarter campaign to share his product with the masses.

I ran across his campaign early on and put in a preorder for his product, called Soylent. Perhaps I was crazy at the time, but I thought it was an interesting idea and definitely worth trying. Months later, I received a box at the door. Upon opening it, I saw bags full of some sort of powder. My Soylent had finally arrived! Now I wouldn’t have to spend time and money buying or preparing food. All I had to do was mix a measured amount of powder in a bottle, add water, drink, and repeat this two more times during the day. It didn’t taste that good, but the convenience and economy factors were enough to make it worthwhile for me.

After a few days of my trial, I found myself yearning for a bite of real food. I craved for my taste buds to hit a different note. More than this, I desired more social interaction. By depriving myself of “food,” I began to realize how much of a social event eating food is. Besides acting as a vehicle for nutrition, food brings us together. Eating is usually done in communion and even if it isn’t, the food that is being consumed was prepared by someone, and the process of eating their preparation is a social interaction in itself.

Throughout my trial with Soylent, I was further able to understand and appreciate food as a social instrument. Looking at it from a functionalist approach, I am able to understand how food(or lack of) contributes to our social functioning as a society. This experience helped me to understand the social constructs of food. It brings us together. Food is not just a bundle of nutrients that we eat in different forms. It also acts as a device that fosters interaction. We wouldn’t be able to survive without it, but more importantly, in its absence, we wouldn’t live up to what defines us as humans, our social interaction.

Approaches to Food Studies

When looking at the sociological perspectives towards studying food and food systems, there are three main ideas:

Functionalist: Functionalism takes a holistic view of society, in that it has many different, separate institutions that form a cohesive unit and thus its properties arise from the relationships between these institutions. Furthermore, functionalism analyzes these institutions to describe their functional significance and potential to contribute to society.

Structuralist: Structuralism looks past the “surface” relationships and seeks to articulate the “deep structures” that lie under the surface. It asserts that these “deep structures” are underlying, unchanging patterns that govern our surface relationships and by understanding them, we can understand the surface features of society better.

Developmental: The developmental approach claims that to understand contemporary cultural or social relations, the way they relate to past relations must be taken into account. Social change is a primary focus for this approach, as it informs the direction and origin of the arrival to the contemporary societal state.

Structuralism has a clear distinction between what lies on the surface and the patterns that inform that; a Rubik’s Cube is like structuralism in that on the surface you have many individual pieces that need to come together, and to achieve this you apply a certain pattern (algorithm) that governs how to move the cube. Much like the algorithm for the Rubik’s Cube was studied in order to figure out how to arrange the pieces, structuralism seeks to study the deep patterns that dictate the surface cultural forms that arise.


Sociological Perspectives on Food and Eating

According to Mennell, Murcott, and Van Otterloo the three main headings food can be classified under are functionalism, structuralism, and developmentalism. This slightly differs from Goody’s initial characterization of the approaches, which included cultural in lieu of developmentalism. The cultural concept is fundamentally found in each of the aforementioned approaches prompting its exclusion.

The Functionalist approach surfaces around the notion of society being made up of several sets of institutions that contribute to the cohesion of a social system, analogous to a living body. Functionalism core is to decipher a social system’s functional significance. Whether it falls under a manifest function or latent function is determined by its deliberateness. Under functionalism, the system is vulnerable to being disrupted by dysfunctional features. However, the primary functionality of a system centers around a mutual obligation and interdependence of the group. Further searching for a way in which a coherent whole can be formed from facets of the system gelling well together. Focus is held on the practicalities behind producing, allocating, and consuming food.

The structuralism approach conveys a deeper structure of food, which form the basis for the system. Inner discovery of thought and mind is analyzed to learn the reasoning for eating. Further probing into the meaning behind the act of cooking and the meal as a social event. There is a universal relation between certain patterns within groups. However, each group carries a uniqueness in their rules and conventions that they use to classify their food into a specific item or category. Structuralism evokes a cultural transformation of deep-seated unchanged relationships underlying the surface changes.

With regards to the developmental approach, it embodies traits of the former two approaches mentioned. Developmentalism represent both an explicit viewpoint and an overall cohesive body. It examines past systems to make sense of current cultural patterns. The beginning point and then the process of social change are important features of this approach.

The beginnings of the sugar industry is an example of a society’s functional subsystems changing. Initially, the sugar trade occurred in a small society, being locally produced and consumed by planters. Once European powers colonized the Caribbean region it opened the industry up to the world. The Caribbean became integrated with the world’s economy, causing interdependence of its native with outsiders. A change occurred to sugar production, distribution, and coordination. New institutions, such as the plantation, emerged fundamentally changing the sugar trade for decades to come. Sugar was a commodity that transformed the Caribbean industry to a capitalistic market-based economy. This became the beginning of a society that would adopt new features of modern-day functionalism.


Sugar Production Flowsheet

Sociological Perspectives on Food and Eating

The functionalist approach seems to explore how already existing institutions interact and integrate with each other to create a coherent whole.

The structuralist approach delves deeper than what is just on the surface and attempts to recognize the symbols and influence. There are certain rules that explain why some food cultures are the way they are.

The developmental approach is explained as the continuous change of food. The past and present are collectively taken into account to understand what has developed.


In biology class, the first lecture always starts with the levels of organization in organisms. Many atoms make up a molecule which then make up a cell and then a tissue. A collection of tissues makes up an organ and the group of organs make an organ system. The function and process of the organ system make up an organism. Like the levels of cell organization, the functionalist perspective examines how food “structures” are integrated into a complex system and function as one unit. We understand that the organism is built from these smaller subunits working together, but do not explore deeper into each individual level.


In psychology, bottom-up processing is using stimuli to influence our perceptions. In the structuralist approach, it is the underlying meaning and symbolism that is observed. Instead of just scratching the surface, the principles that create society are carefully “investigated.” From a superficial level, one only sees black and white spots canvasing a blank space. However, by processing the visual stimulus presented, one will see a dog sniffing the ground. By digging deeper into the behavior and thoughts, we are able to better understand the foundation of what these systems are built on.


The developmental approach takes into account past social and cultural forms to explain and “change” the present. If we turn to simple evolution, we see the progression of mankind, both physically and mentally. Biologically and psychologically, humans are explained by the adaptation and growth in past societal and cultural relationships. Past and present values of food have interchangeably defined the standards of the food system. While at times, the values may be redefined, sometimes the existing ones are rooted from history.

The food system can be explained by describing five main stages – production, distribution, preparation, consumption, and disposal. The food system is mainly viewed societally with farms, markets, and restaurants as the main methods of carrying out each process. However, while reading about the different phases, it made me think about how my personal experience related to the system in a smaller application.

Growing up, the vegetables and herbs at the dinner table always came from the backyard. My mother, even to this day, grew many plants to feed us fresh produce and also taught us how to care for them. Though they were not sold to local markets or people, she would let friends and neighbors in our garden to pick 6their own vegetables and shared seeds with them. While she started preparing dinner, my mother would send me to pick out ingredients and cooked delicious meals. The leftover scraps were used as fertilizer and mixed into the ground to help continue their growth. The food system shows a never-ending cycle in this personal context and through this, I had the opportunity to appreciate each process as I acquired the knowledge and experience through my family garden.


Every year, in the Korean culture, the first day of the Korean lunar year is celebrated. One of the festivities is making dumplings from scratch. Mothers would mix flour to make the peels and the daughters would make the stuffing mixed with minced meat, glass noodles, chives, and many other vegetables. It was a collaborative family affair where laughter and tradition was shared. There were even tales about those who made pretty-looking dumplings would bear beautiful children. The functionalist approach defines the integration of many systems to come to a definite goal. It does not take just one person to prepare all of the dumplings for a celebration, but everyone in the household to contribute. Under the developmental approach, it is revealed that dumpling-making has faded. With dumplings being sold in markets, the tradition of making them from scratch have been replaced with frozen products.

By exploring the sociological perspective of food, many social relationships are uncovered, whether it is within a family or in the economy. If we understand the broad generalization on the surface, we can probe deeper and understand the foundation on what the beliefs were based on. On the other hand, by recognizing the smaller units and integration of such principles, we are able to form a bigger picture. However, not everything is set in stone. Nothing is static and social change is always a lingering factor when approaching these different perspectives.

Blog Entry #1: Sociological Perspectives on Food and Eating

Zeyu Zhong

As the authors of Sociological Perspectives on Food and Eating comprehensively have suggested that diverse dimensions and perspectives are such outstanding ways to help us understand the importance and principles of food system, we will acquire excellent knowledge of biological and social meaning and significance of food in this certain chapter. The authors first analyze the biological meaning by claiming the necessity of absorbing routine food as one important source of energy consumption, and then smoothly switch to the cultural and social aspects. They argue that during the process of socialization, process of consuming food brings us the social differentiation as well as individual identity and transmission of culture. Then by combining two schemes of two classifications, the authors finally introduce functionalist, structuralist and developmentalist as three main theories to discuss.

— The functionalist approach:  The functionalist view, as the authors introduce, is based upon an analogy between human society and organic system. They profess that the components of a society can be interrelated and interplayed by each other and form an integrity as a complete society. Moreover, functionalist pays much attention to the functional significance of the institutions in order to study the important function of them. Although criticism contends that functionalist put excessive emphasis on the static aspects of society and claims that functionalist is outdated, it will not be wise to erase the contribution and basic principles made by the functionalist.

— The structuralist approach: The structuralist view, unlike the functionalist who tend to study on the comprehensive function of society, is willing to puncture the surface and have a deeper understanding. They tend to analyze people’s social behavior and mind through the anthropological material and data in order to form a certain and evident pattern. Thus, they put their efforts on rules and conventions of contracting the food system. It is not surprising that criticism finds ways to attack some drawbacks of structuralist, but we cannot deny the brilliant contribution such as the metaphor of communication and the searching for deeper thoughts of the society.

— The developmentalist approach: Different from the two approaches above, developmentalist give a unique perspective to study the society. Developmentalist tends to analyze the components of society in a dynamic way. That is, they will drag the events of the past into the discussion and try to understand the change of society. In other words, they regard the conflicts with the society as an important aspect of the analysis. Developmentalist view contributes a lot to the sociological study, and some splendid scholar such as Harris has even created wonderful analysis to the aspects of eating and food system.


The picture above clearly illustrates the main principal of functionalism, which is probably the foundation and predecessor of the other two theories. From the view of functionalists, human’s brain can be seen as analogy to a working machine. Different individual parts working together creates the functional machine, or brain. By successful cooperating, the integrity can generate collective power. The graph of the computer in the picture suggests that the principal of operating a computer is similar to the operation of brain of human.

From the reading, it is unimaginable that the food system has influenced myriad aspects of our history and culture. But deliberately consider the time and efforts we have spent on food, it is not hard to conclude the importance of food. We might spend almost 3 hours, about 1/8 of a day, on breakfast, lunch and dinner, if we ignore the extra time that we spend on snacks or others. Moreover, as what author has suggested, food gives us a kind of memory or feeling that well supports our sense of culture. For example, little special snack from our hometown can remind us the memory of our hometown or even of our childhood. Besides, as a good aspect of cultural commutation, sharing and discussion of food are good ways to make people from two different civilization friends. Thus, from both the content of the book and from our daily commonsense, we can determine the importance of food and significance of the study of food.