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Food, place and identity: consuming Australia's 'beef capital'

  • Year: 2001
  • Author: Lockie, Stewart
  • Journal Name: Journal of Sociology
  • Journal Number: Vol.37, No.3
  • Country: Australia

As social practice the consumption of food demonstrates the fundamentally social nature of the human body and subjectivity. Through eating, individuals are both incorporated into global networks of production and exchange, and incorporate themselves the meanings associated with those foods. Consumption is also, however, a spatially and temporally situated practice. This article argues that space and time must be analysed not only as sites at which food is consumed – with a view to mapping variability – but as social constructions that are themselves consumed and imbued with meaning. They are both signifier and signified. It goes on to explore the ways in which residents of Rockhampton (the ‘Beef Capital’ of Australia) constructed the ‘place’ in which they lived and their own food consumption practices. Residents demonstrated a high degree of reflexivity in their awareness of wider networks of social relations and the manner in which the identity of the ‘Beef Capital’ was itself consumed by ‘outsiders’ but, according to some, were rather less reflexive in their acceptance of the masculinist symbolism of beef and the experiences of marginalized groups within Rockhampton.

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