Demand, Supply, Sustainability and Security
Edited by Raghbendra Jha, Raghav Gaiha and Anil B. Deolalikar
Chapter 20: Global middle class and dietary patterns: a sociological perspective
The phenomenon of dietary consumption patterns among the middle class constitute three key elements: class, middleclassness and eating or dietary consumption. In analysing the dietary consumption patterns, the present chapter, therefore, explores the relationship among these elements. Eating has two major aspects - scientific/medical and social. Concerns with nutrients/ nutrition and health status constitute the scientific dimension but there is also a social element associated with it. Class is one such key social element. The class phenomenon, however, for most part represented a limited social element as it focused dominantly on the economic aspect. This is because historically, class as a theoretical category, has been studied from two key perspectives, Marxian and Weberian, both of which emphasize the importance of market capacities in shaping life chances and the relationship to the means of production. These theories of social class have been influential perspectives on the middle class. Lately, class itself is being defined in non-economic terms, thus expanding not only the meaning of class but thereby also the implications of class for everyday life of populations. The non-economic dimension has given rise to what is called the new middle class. This is defined in ways beyond economic and includes issues of politics and lifestyles and consumption. Consumption of food and dietary patterns is one important aspect of the middle class that has gained increased attention in the past few years.
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