The Taste for Civilization

The Taste for Civilization : Food, Politics, and Civil Society

3.54 (22 ratings by Goodreads)
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This book explores the idea that table activities--the mealtime rituals of food preparation, serving, and dining--lay the foundation for a proper education on the value of civility, the importance of the common good, and what it means to be a good citizen. The arts of conversation and diplomatic speech are learned and practiced at tables, and a political history of food practices recasts thoughtfulness and generosity as virtues that enhance civil society and democracy. In our industrialized and profit-centered culture, however, foodwork is devalued and civility is eroding.

Looking at the field of American civility, Janet A. Flammang addresses the gendered responsibilities for foodwork's civilizing functions and argues that any formulation of \u0022civil society\u0022 must consider food practices and the household. To allow space for practicing civility, generosity, and thoughtfulness through everyday foodwork, Americans must challenge the norms of unbridled consumerism, work-life balance, and domesticity and caregiving. Connecting political theory with the quotidian activities of the dinner table, Flammang discusses practical ideas from the \u0022delicious revolution\u0022 and Slow Food movement to illustrate how civic activities are linked to foodwork, and she points to farmers' markets and gardens in communities, schools, and jails as sites for strengthening civil society and degendering foodwork.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 344 pages
  • 156 x 230 x 26mm | 662.24g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • New
  • 0252034902
  • 9780252034909

Review quote

"An important and provocative book."--Gastronomica "Deftly bringing together political theory, feminist analysis, and cultural studies, Flammang uses the familiar world of our private lives and everyday practices with food to interrogate the public life of American democracy and civil society. Thoughtful and creative."--Anna Sampaio, coeditor of Transnational Latina/o Communities: Politics, Processes, and Cultures "[Flammang] treats this subject with the high seriousness and scholarly insight it deserves."--Hypatia "Eating is something we all have in common: it opens up both our senses and our consciences to our place in the world. Janet A. Flammang's The Taste for Civilization shows how the American family meal has been devalued from its role as a daily enactment of shared necessity and ritualized cooperation--and how important it is to restore the daily ritual of the table in our lives."--Alice Waters, founder, Chez Panisse "Provocative. . . . Flammang makes a convincing case for the centrality of food work and shared meals, much along the lines laid down by Carlo Petrini and Alice Waters, but with more historical perspective and theoretical rigor."--Michael Pollan, The New York Review of Books "A compelling argument reconnecting domesticity to civil society. . . . Highly recommended."--Choice
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About Janet A. Flammang

Janet A. Flammang is a professor and the chair of political science at Santa Clara University and the author of Women's Political Voice: How Women are Transforming the Practice and Study of Politics and other works.
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Table of contents

Acknowledgements; Introduction; Civility, Civil Society and Democracy; Political Theory: Where's the Household in Civil Society?; Empirical Studies: It's Hard to Measure the Table; The Art of Conversation and Civic Virtues of Thoughtfulness and Generosity; Meals, Conversations and Women; What Changes are Needed?; Part One: Household Foodwork; Chapter 1: The Time Crunch; Farm and City Foodwork; Women's Labor Force Participation and Overworked Americans; Technology and Food Tasks; The Second Shift and the Globalization of Housework; Invisible Foodwork; Solutions to the Time Crunch; Chapter 2: Domesticity: Meals, Obligation and Gratitude; Political and Gendered Domesticity; Deciding on the Menu: Household Variations; Gift, Obligation and the Economy of Gratitude; Psychological Memories and Social Connections; Escape from the Household with Commercial Food; Chapter 3: American Food; American Food as Multi-Ethnic and Regional Corporations Urge Immigrants to Eat American; Racial and Ethnic Pride in Foodways; The Slow Food Movement; American foodways, the Obesity Crisis and Global Warming; Part Two: Table Conversation; Chapter 4: Conversation and Manners; Conversations and Civility; Civil Society: Light Social Conversations and Heavy Political Arguments; The Lost Art of Conversation in the United States; Upper Class and Feminine: Courtesy, Civility, Politeness and Manners; The Universality of Table Manners; Manners and the Middle Class
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Rating details

22 ratings
3.54 out of 5 stars
5 18% (4)
4 27% (6)
3 50% (11)
2 0% (0)
1 5% (1)
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