The existence of consumption routines is particularly significant for those interested in the diffusion of innovative consumer products. The implication is that existing routines need to be modified or broken for innovation to succeed. Product ranges are designed so that a hierarchy of products are offered to different social groups. Advertisements are also created and presented in a manner to make clear the social significance of consuming a certain good. The chapter defines a consumption routine as an executable capability for repeated consumption that has been learned or acquired by groups of consumers in response to social pressures or contexts. This notion of routine is taken from evolutionary economics, but is modified to take account of the sociology of consumption, in an explicit attempt to combine insights from both economic and sociological approaches. This chapter looks at the routine nature of food consumption and shows that both persistent social class and social mobility are significant determinants of changing routines, but operate in different ways for different foods.
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.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book focuses on highly contentious issue, that of the use of the intriguing concept of quality. It explores new applications of established theories and adapts theoretical approaches in order to illuminate behaviour in the field of food. The book presents existing disciplinary approaches to understand judgements about taste. It also presents economists' approaches to quality and demand with a view to providing a more adequate and persuasive account. The book shows how complex, and also how almost whimsical, are the social processes involved in convincing people that a product about to be purchased has a particular desired attribute. It considers a form of challenge, orchestrated primarily by groups of agricultural producers, to the conventional industrial food system.
This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on concepts discussed in the preceding chapters of this book. The book describes that quality is inevitably about controversy over standards, and presents a set of diverse and detailed observations. It analyses of what it is to make a claim that something is of better quality than something else. The book focuses on a number of contrasting approaches to quality of food. It describes that different quality attributes could also have included contributions from sensory studies, biology, toxicology, psychology and others. It illustrates some of the ways in which the duty of interpretation may be conducted, suggesting a number of different ways to handle the quandaries of judgement. The book examines quality in the consumption sphere, several of the contributions have tacitly recognised links to commercial considerations.
This book brings together a range of sociologists and economists to study the role of demand and consumption in the innovative process. Starting with a broad conceptual overview of ways that the sociological and economics literatures address issues of innovation, demand and consumption, it goes on to offer different approaches to the economics of demand and innovation through an evolutionary framework, before reviewing how consumption fits into evolutionary models of economic development. The book then looks at food consumption as an example of innovation by demand, including an examination of the dynamic nature of socially constituted consumption routines. It includes an analysis of how African Americans use consumption to express collective identity and discusses the involvement of consumers in innovation, focusing on how consumer needs may be incorporated in the design of high-tech products. It also argues for the need to build an economic sociology of demand that goes from micro-individual through to macro-structural features.
Andrew McMeekin, Ken Green, Mark Tomlinson, and Vivien Walsh
This book offers broad conceptual overviews of ways that the sociological and economics literatures address issues of innovation, demand, and consumption. It looks at the sociological literature on consumption, focusing on research that offers alternative or complementary views to the concepts of ‘conspicuous consumption’ and individual choice. It also argues that there is more to the economics of consumption than the mainstream economists' paradigm of utility maximisation, reviews how consumption fits into ‘evolutionary’ models of economic development, examines the routine nature of food consumption, analyses how African Americans use consumption to express collective identity, discusses the involvement of consumers in innovation, considers users and how their needs may be incorporated (successfully or otherwise) in the design of high-tech products, and stresses the need to build an economic sociology/political economy of demand that goes from micro-individual through to macro-structural features.