For this Ethnography Activity you will do the following:

Eating Habits: Taste or Symbol?

  1. Over the next week and a half try to engage as many of your friends/contacts/ teachers/family members etc. as possible in an ethnographic conversation about their eating habits.
  2. Don’t elicit information in an interview but try to work the conversation around to eating habits. Ideally, they should not feel they have been specifically questioned. But if you prefer to make your interest explicit, then mention that this is a subject you are looking at as part of your course. You may find talking about your own eating habits is a good way to get other people talking.
  3. Elicit as much as you can about:•what animals they consider edible •what parts of the animal they are happy to eat/would never eat leg. liver, lungs, tongue, etc.)•what meat they would consider eating if their normal food was not available (zebra, dog, sparrow, etc.) •what vegetables they would never eat •their feelings if someone sitting next to them was eating food they would never eat•other interesting perceptions that emerge within all these questions•Elicit as much as you can about their reasons for eating/not eating certain foods.
  4. Try to construct some ‘value’ patterns or classifications from the data you have collected. Are there any patterns in the eating habits of people? Are there patterns in eating habits according to gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, social class, culture, etc.?

Write a report/summary of your findings. Concentrate on writing as much detail as possible about your interviews.

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