Class and cuisine in contemporary Britain : the social space, the space of food and their homology

Atkinson, Will and Deeming, Christopher (2015) Class and cuisine in contemporary Britain : the social space, the space of food and their homology. The Sociological Review, 63 (4). pp. 876-896. ISSN 0038-0261 (

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Thirty-five years ago Pierre Bourdieu asserted that food preferences, as much as any other element of culture, are distributed within a space of difference more or less homologous with the social space of class positions. Plumbing data on annual spends on all manner of food items, he detected two key oppositions – a taste for the light versus a taste for the heavy on the one hand and a taste for rich foods versus a taste for healthy and exotic foods on the other – and located their generative principles in differences of volume of capital and composition of capital respectively. Deploying a correspondence analysis of similar data using the 2010 Living Costs and Food Survey, supplemented by data from the 2008 British Social Attitudes survey and the 2003 Cultural Capital and Social Exclusion Survey, we seek to examine whether comparable differences in expenditure and preferences are observable in contemporary Britain and, consequently, to illuminate the current structure of the food space and its homology with class. Ultimately, we conclude that Bourdieu’s general model is essentially transposable from 1960s France to the UK at the dawn of the 21st century, though we put additional emphasis on the ethical dimension of food consumption, and reflect on the prevalent instances of symbolic violence it underpins.