Eating into Britishness: Multicultural Imaginaries and the Identity Politics of Food

  • Ian Cook
  • Philip Crang
  • Mark Thorpe
Part of the Explorations in Sociology. British Sociological Association Conference Volume Series book series (EIS)


Lurking behind the simplicity of the aphorism that ‘you are what you eat’ are much more complex relations between food and identity practice. In this chapter we will be trying to suggest some of that complexity by exploring two aspects of those relations in the British context. First, we will be outlining how everyday practices of commodified food provision and consumption involve the production and consumption not only of foods but of social imaginaries, which position individual dietary practices within wider discursive framings. Second, we will be concentrating on one particular set of such imaginaries: those constituting a multicultural space of different foods, peoples and places. This latter focus is not chosen at random. The postwar internationalization of food provision and consumption within the UK has been widely noted within studies both of the food system and of British diets and tastes (Mennell, 1985; Goodman and Redclift, 1991; Arce and Marsden, 1993; Cook, 1994). It is not only driven by the large retailers’ desire to establish global supply chains that counteract the seasonality of production and ensure the cheapest possible sourcing, but also involves a set of promotional commentaries on the global culinary reach of British food providers.


Cultural Diversity Global Supply Chain Chinese Restaurant Chinese Food Food Provider 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© British Sociological Association 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian Cook
  • Philip Crang
  • Mark Thorpe

There are no affiliations available

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