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Voluntary Hysteresis in Food Consumption

Robinson, T. & Lundahl, O. (2019). Voluntary Hysteresis in Food Consumption. In: 10TH EIASM INTERPRETIVE CONSUMER RESEARCH WORKSHOP. 10th EIASM Interpretive Consumer Research Workshop, 9-10 May 2019, Lyon, France.


Hysteresis, according to Bourdieu, is experienced as a passing crisis of anomie or alienation as one becomes accustomed to a new taste regime. We propose that hysteresis plays an important role in why people adopt challenging taste regimes, like veganism. We then ask, what role does voluntary hysteresis play in food consumption and in the mobilisation of power? We do so by focusing on the case of the so-called 22-day vegan diet, upon which rapper Jay Z and his pop diva Beyoncé embarked in 2013. Our contribution is to show how purposefully seeking out the experience of taste hysteresis through the unpleasant transition to veganism comes to be a point of distinction. This is because the agentic intervention into food habitus and subsequent voluntary hysteresis transforms the distribution of symbolic capital. Furthermore, while Bourdieu argues that hysteresis tends to emphasise the existing power positions within a field as individuals from privileged backgrounds are more equipped to navigate the changing field, our findings suggest that it is particularly the upwardly mobile who seek out voluntary hysteresis. To these consumers, voluntary hysteresis has exclusionary potential which distinguishes them from their earlier, lower social class.

Publication Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Publisher Keywords: hysteresis, veganism, habitus
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GT Manners and customs
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
T Technology > TX Home economics
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
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