National culinary capital how the state and tv shape the 'taste of the nation' to create distinction
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Buscemi, F. (2014) National culinary capital how the state and tv shape the 'taste of the nation' to create distinction, no. 344.
This interdisciplinary thesis breaks new ground in the fields of food and media studies, in the specific areas of culinary capital and food TV. On food studies, this thesis theorises that the state plays the role of meta-tastemaker, legitimising some foods as a source of social distinction in order to support national ideologies and beliefs. The social prestige that citizens accumulate thanks to these foods is what this thesis defines as national culinary capital. On media studies, this thesis analyses how national culinary capital is represented on television, and how the media and the nation negotiate it. Only by merging the two disciplines has this thesis been able to catch the sense of the complex power relationships between the nation and the media. Through the analysis of two national TV food travelogues, the Italian Ti Ci Porto Io and the British Jamie's Great Britain, this work draws on Bourdieu's concepts of statist and cultural capital, and on Naccarato and LeBesco's theorisation of culinary capital. Cultural studies views of national culture and television, and theories on nation-building contribute to the theoretical framework. Methodologically, this study applies political economy and Bourdieu's field analysis to Italian and British TV and food TV, and to the broadcasters and production companies of the shows. In addition, moving image and semiotic analysis of the travelogues clarify how the two shows represent national culinary capital. An interview with the Italian producer, and a failed interview with the British one shed further light on the national ideologies represented by the shows and linked to food. The results show how, in the two countries, national culinary capital supports different ideologies with similar aims. Moreover, while in Italy the state exerts its power over the media in a stronger way, in Britain the media prove to be powerful enough to shape an independent form of national culinary capital, embodied by the media invention of the celebrity chef.