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Food, Politics and Society


Module description

In this module we explore the political and social dimensions of the production, distribution and consumption of food and drink. It is an interdisciplinary module that uses resources from political sociology, political theory, history and anthropology in order to illuminate our understanding of the political and social character of the food system in the modern world.

Indicative syllabus

  • The birth of agriculture
  • The Columbian Exchange
  • Food, drink and the public sphere
  • Courtly cuisines
  • Food and industrialisation
  • Ritual and religion I: feasting and fasting
  • Ritual and religion II: purity and danger
  • Food and identity: ‘national’ cuisines and ‘ethnic' food
  • Alcohol and the state
  • Food and the city: geographies of supply, consumption and waste
  • The political economy of global food system
  • Famines, wars and starvation
  • Food and social movements
  • Food and global security
  • Food choices
  • Food, biotechnology, biopolitics and bioethics
  • Food, the media and celebrity cooks

Learning objectives

By the end of this module you will be able to:

  • understand the main theoretical debates about the relationship between food, politics and society
  • understand key subjects in the historical and political sociology of food production and consumption
  • critically analyse current issues and problems around the production and consumption of food, such as malnutrition, regulation of food markets, food security etc
  • understand how various disciplinary approaches drawn from the social sciences and humanities contribute towards the understanding of food production and consumption
  • demonstrate skills of analysis and critique that can be transferred to further study in the social sciences and humanities.