The "Sociological-Caloric" Value of Food: Culinary, Cultural, and Spatial "Measurements"
The article was initially intended as a review of Carolyn Steel's book Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Lives. However, the author's foreword on the reasons and variations of the sociological interest in food turned the review into the reflections on the ways of (or a kind of) sociological analysis of food's role in the contemporary consumer society, a role that cannot be simply reduced to a "fuel" necessary for the trouble-free operation of man as a biological creature. There are several clearly-defined contexts of the scientific analysis of food that can be of interest and importance for sociologists. These contexts include the macroeconomic approach (such as various interpretations of food security from the social-economic to the (geo)political, such as the Russian state's politicized discourse of import substitution that ignores the population's real food practices and access to food); the gender-economic approach (a 'feminized' version of economic history); the culinary-ideological approach (when the recipes of the usual cookbook or the model of public catering development hide the ideological didactic instructions on the mandatory way of life, i.e., "political dietology"); and the historical-cultural-anthropological approach (the attempts to reconstruct the social-cultural codes of food and its role in the epoch-making events of the past). Such wide boundaries of today's scientific interpretations of food allowed the presentation of the Hungry City as an almost ideal example of the sociological analysis of the social life of food in all its diverse manifestations (such as the production and transportation of food, urbanization and food markets, the transformations of home kitchens' design, the development of the public catering system, social meanings of the joint meal-and-wastes recycling, social justice and utopias), even though the book focuses on only the culinary culture of England.