By John Coveney

© 2014 – Routledge

110 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415524469
pub: 2013-07-18
Hardback: 9780415524452
pub: 2013-07-09

Look Inside e–Inspection Copy

About the Book

The centrality of food in life, and the importance of food as life, is undeniable. As a source of biological substrates, personal pleasure and political power, food is and has been an enduring requirement of human biological, social and cultural existence. In recent years, interest in food has increased across the academic, public and popular spheres, fuelled by popular media’s constant play on the role of food and body size, and food and cooking, as a mass spectacle for TV audiences.

In Food, a new book part of the Shortcuts Series, John Coveney examines ‘food as…’ humanness, identity, politics, industry, regulation, the environment and justice. He explores how food helps us understand what it means to be human. Through food, we construct our social identities, our families and communities, but this book also highlights the tensions between the industrialisation of food, the environment, and the fair (or otherwise) worldwide distribution of food. It considers how the food industries, on which most of us have to rely, have also had direct effects on our bodies – whether through diet and longevity, or the development of illness and diseases.

This book is for all students and general readers alike – or for anyone with a fascination with food. It questions the idea that food is merely something inert on the plate, and instead shows how influential, symbolic, powerful and transformative food has come to be.

This book is part of the Shortcuts series published by Routledge, a major new series of concise, accessible introductions to some of the major issues of our times.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. Food as… Humanness 2. Food as… Identity 3. Food as… Politics 4. Food as… Industry 5. Food as… Regulation 6. Food as… The Environment 7. Food as… Justice. References

About the Author

John Coveney is Professor of Public Health in the School of Medicine at Flinders University, Australia. He is the author of, among other works, Food, Morals and Meaning: Second edition (Routledge).

About the Series


Shortcuts is a major new series of concise, accessible introductions to some of the major issues of our times. The series is developed as an A to Z coverage of emergent or new social, cultural and political phenomena. Issues and topics covered range from food to fat, from climate change to suicide bombing, from love to zombies. Whilst the principal focus of Shortcuts is the relevance of current issues, topics and debates to the social sciences and humanities, the books will also appeal to a wider audience seeking guidance on how to engage with today’s leading social, political and philosophical debates. Short and concise, the books will include cutting-edge pedagogical features such as a glossary of key terms, one-page argument summaries and a webliography.

Anthony Elliott is Director of the Hawke Research Institute, where he is Research Professor of Sociology at the University of South Australia. He is also Visiting Professor at University College Dublin, Ireland. His contact information is:


Professor Anthony Elliott, FASSA

Director, Hawke Research Institute

Research Professor of Sociology

University of South Australia

GPO Box 2471

Adelaide SA 5001


Tel.: 61 8 8302 1084




UCD School of Sociology
Newman Building
University College Dublin
Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
Tel: +353 1 716 8674
Fax: +353 1 716 1125

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HEALTH & FITNESS / Nutrition
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Popular Culture
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Disease & Health Issues