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Book Description
This analytical framework will look at eating and dining as social rituals through which gender roles and class-based values are embodied and enacted. In complex societies, the essence of a cultured human being lies in their performance of these rituals. For example, women are seen by many cultures as symbols. In reference to food culture and American family values, the woman is most commonly associated with the production of the family as a cohesive unit. It is the wife’s and mother’s job to teach her husband and children the how’s and why’s of dining, namely the behavior expected to be embodied by someone in their particular social class. If the mother does her job correctly, then her children will be trained to notice even the smallest breaches in social etiquette. They are taught from birth the correct attitudes, postures, gestures, and types of speech appropriate for particular social situations. Upon reaching adulthood, this knowledge and behavior should be instinctual. In American food culture gender roles are enacted by those striving to fit in with mainstream societal beliefs about family life, particularly by working and middle-class mothers. Though processes of doing foodwork and the evolution of beliefs surrounding the woman’s role in enacting foodwork over the last one hundred years, the evaluations represented in this framework will reflect how the stereotypes produced by mainstream society about appropriate displays of femininity have remained strong in the unconscious minds of American citizens trying to fit in with the dominant social structure.
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