Literature  review


‘Food and eating: An anthropological perspective.’

How we get our self-identity and communication from food and eating?


The information about food and eating around everywhere in our daily life, we cannot survive without involving food. However, if we try to treat having food as an independent or social activity rather than basic demand of human being, there would be various original perspectives in cultural, social, anthological and psychological aspects.


Release of religion and self-signal from food manner and preference

Food preference is one of the ways that people reveal their class and cultural background. We provide others with communication and culture through food variety and eating manner, meanwhile, we obtain our own identification from these. From the article ‘food and eating: An anthropological perspective’, the author purposes that food identification exists in the same way such as fashion, speech, music, and manners, ethnic, religious and class identity are as obvious one (Fox, 2002). Religion decides that how believers eat in terms of recipes and manners. Take Muslim as the example, pork is forbidden in their eating routine, Old Testament describing pork as “unclean for you”. And also there is a dish named hand pilaf, which means the manner of eating process is merely grabbing by hands. Therefore, from this, we can recognise people’s religion by means of manners and food selecting, it can be explained as a signal to others and rules for themselves.


Cultural background influence

Culturally, food manners indicate individual education, class hierarchy, and huge differences between western and eastern. Leyerle(1995) mentioned that table manners can represent people’s morality. A person who obeys decent table manner shows the level of education and multi-cultural knowledge. Using the fork in a proper way is really important in western. In Asia, on the contrary, there are not various rules in diet. For instance, Chinese people basically use chopsticks and spoons as main tableware for all kinds of dishes. Therefore, they do not distinguish chopsticks into different sizes or functions, it brings convenient or unitary table manner relatively.


Food connects to social behaviour and individual personality

Choosing to having food individual or with a group, having a quick simple meal or join in a fancy dinner, it is decided by distinct social or individual situation. On one hand, people who prefer some special flavours indicate personalities and social attributes. Some people who prefer to eat hot or spicy food tend to be more aggression (Batra, Ghoshal and Raghunathan, 2017). On the other hand, Fox (2002) mentioned that food have to be “special”-to demonstrate thoughtfulness and care of host in formal occasion, although they do not need to descript all the consumption. The food here can be compared to the present that how people can connect the relationship between each other. Beside, the action of eating brings diverse communication by dissimilar places. For the parents, or even the couple without child, eating out regards as more formal and romantic behaviour (Fox, 2002). For the friends or family, eating out gathers more social information but staying in the private site offers more casual and relaxed emotions.


Human beings will present themselves and communicate based on food in the future

Food as the messages about selves and status, role and religion, race and nation, it presents symbolic communication (Fox, 2002). In the future, there would still be multi-cultural all over the world, but comparing with group, power of each individual impact enormously. To the food and eating, it tends to be a particular approach individually, which people identify self and communicate out.



Fox, R. (2002). ‘Food and Eating: An Anthropological Perspective’, Social Oxford: Social Issues Research Centre:1-22

Batra, R., Ghoshal, T. and Raghunathan, R. (2017). You are what you eat: An empirical investigation of the relationship between spicy food and aggressive cognition. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 71, pp.42-48.