By Larkin T.
Upper-middle class American consumers frequently condemn mainstream food production practices with little consideration of the privilege they have amongst the majority of Americans to actively choose how their food is produced, and where they receive their food from. Frequently criticizing factory farming, genetic engineering, and non-organic production, upper-middle class Americans demonstrate how “privilege is invisible to those who have it” when they fail to acknowledge or even consider that many Americans do not have the economic means to pursue alternative food sources that are more expensive.
From a Culture and Personality theoretical perspective, one must consider the various “types” of people created by society through different socialization processes in order to comprehend how these different “types” are frequently unaware of each others limitations and privileges. For example, the majority of Americans who actively strive for healthy lifestyles and specifically buy stereotypical “health” foods are only able to do so based on the privilege they are awarded via their socioeconomic class in the U.S. The contemporary vegan, yogic, health-oriented personality “type” is ever prevalent in the contemporary United States. However, this personality type is only developing from a distinct privileged socioeconomic class. In comparison, someone who is socialized in a working-class environment probably doesn’t have the luxury to go to an expensive yoga class in their free time while making stops at the local organic grocery store. In most impoverished communities yoga would never be considered a plausible activity for communal socialization. Furthermore, impoverished communities are targeted and swelled with the fast food industry, leaving very little room for grocery stores, let alone organic-locally sourced ones.From this perspective, one would assume that the differences in socioeconomic class, a product of the culture and society, led to differences in socialization thus leading to different personality types.
From a Structural Functionalism theoretical perspective, the social structure that holds this phenomena together and keeps it functioning as a holistic process would be emphasized as the cause of these differences in food preference, access to nutritional education, and food access amongst different classes in the U.S. The phenomena observed is not a result of the people itself, but rather the social structure that holds society together collectively.For the U.S., the economic system would be seen as the institutional source of inequity amongst the social structure, thus leading to class differentials and lack of access to certain resources that the more privileged members of society have, such as access to Whole Foods and other organic grocers. The social structure of society directly leads to privilege and lack of privilege in relation to food quality in the U.S. Furthermore, the ideological construction of how privileged is gained, from a capitalist perspective, the basis of the economic system in the U.S., would lead to a lack of empathy from a upper-class individual in relation to the deficiency of privilege amongst lower-class peoples.
 Michael Kimmel, “On Gender” YouTube Video posted by “ChallengingMedia”
Recitation,TA Kate Fischer, ANTH 2100, Frontiers of Cultural Anthropology, 18 September 2014
A.R Radcliffe-Brown ,“On Social Structure” in The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 70, No. 1 (1940), pp. 1-12