This book explores the new applications of established theories or adapts theoretical approaches in order to illuminate behaviour in the field of food. It focuses on social processes at the downstream end of the food chain, processes of distribution and consumption. The book reviews the existing disciplinary approaches to understanding judgements about food taste. It suggests that the quality 'halal' is the result of a social and economic consensus between the different generations and cultures of migrant Muslims as distinct from the non-Muslim majority. Food quality is to be viewed in terms of emergent cognitive paradigms sustained within food product networks that encompass a wide range of social actors with a wide variety of intermediaries, professional and governmental. The creation of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) occurred at a juncture when perceptions of policy failure were acknowledged at United Kingdom and European Union governmental levels. The book presents a case study of retailer-led food governance in the UK to examine how different 'quality logics' actually collide in the competitive world of food consumption and production. It argues that concerns around food safety were provoked by the emergence of a new food aesthetic based on 'relationalism' and 'embeddedness'. The book also argues that the study of the arguments and discourses deployed to criticise or otherwise qualify consumption is important to the political morality of consumption.
We have been helped, criticised and inspired by a number of people in the course of writing this book. Among those to whom we should especially like to express our gratitude (sorry for the omissions from this list) are: Christine Achinger, Claudine Attias-Donfut, Glynis Cousin, Shoshana Fine, Lars Fischer, David Hirsh, Gunther Jikeli, Alan Johnson, Lesley Klaff, Karmela Liebkind, Brendon McGeever, Sean Matgamna, Lydia Morris, Istvan Pogany, Lars Rensmann, Dave Rich, David Seymour, Karin Stoegner, Kim Robin Stoller and Howard Wollman. Institutions are vital to research and we should especially like to thank friends and colleagues in the European Sociological Association Network on Racism and Antisemitism. The discussions we have had every year since some of us succeeded in establishing the network ten years ago have been consistently stimulating, sometimes fraught and always educative. We should also like to mention the roles played by Engage – the antiracist campaign against antisemitism; Fathom – for a deeper understanding of Israel and the region; the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck College University of London; the Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide; the Community Security Trust – protecting our Jewish community; the British Association for Jewish Studies; the Helen Bamber Centre for the Study of Rights, Conflict and Mass Violence, Kingston University; the Department of Sociology and Social Theory Centre, University of Warwick; Manchester University Press; and our enthusiastic and friendly editor Caroline Wintersgill. As always, we owe a considerable debt to our families for their engagement as well as support – to Jane, Rosa and Reuben, and to Shoshana, Tony, Glyn and Lydia. And lastly we cannot let this go without thanking the hospitable staff at Ishtar, Crawford Street, who provided us with a nourishing lunchtime ‘office’ where many of the ideas in this book were cooked, skewered and hashed out.