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Revenue arising from the consumption of food occupies a large share of income of a hotel, how to provide proper food to consumers to give consumers a good consumption experience has a positive effect on how the hotel acquire an ideal income (Lin and Mao, 2015). In order to achieve this goal, it is necessary for hotel managers to have a deep understanding of information about customers’ psychology, behavior, motivation in food consumption. Thus some scholars believe that consumers eat food not just to avoid starvation, but to meet their individual preferences and reflect their own tastes or social status, as well as to meet other needs (Bourdieu 1984). On the one hand, some internal and external factors affect consumers' choices of food, on the other hand, consumers’ choices can also be an effective response which reflects their personalities, hobbies, social status, cultures and even ethnic information (Hallam and Baum, 1996). While other academicians hold a contrary view, they think that people’s choice of food can not reflect the information characteristic of individuality (Lin and Mao, 2015). The opposite conclusion might make hotel-related employees confused, as they need to know whether it is feasible for them to understand the characteristics of consumers' food consumption behavior through observing the food that people eat, so as to based on this to further develop relevant marketing and management strategies. To resolve this paradox, this essay is from the perspective of sociology, combined with class theory, carnivalesque theory and micro-power theory, as well as some of the results of empirical research to discuss whether the food people eat can reflect who they are.
2.0 Main body主體
2.1 Social class社會階層
Considering the study of consumption phenomena, different subject visual angles lead to different ways of researches on consumption (Williams, Crockett, Harrison and Thomas, 2012). For a long time, economics is from the perspective of individual rational choice to assert that consumption is decided by personal income and psychological preferences (Foucault, 1963). Sociology is based on social structure to point out that individuals are always in a certain social structure, it advocates explaining consumption phenomena with social class:
“The members of the professionals are mainly distinguished by the high proportion of their spending which goes on expensive products, particularly meat and especially the most expensive meat (veal, lamb, mutton), fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and shellfish, cheese and aperitifs .”
Bourdieu (1984) considers that the most important elements of social class are the amount and structures of various capitals and social trajectory (Swartz, 2006). According to these three criteria, Bourdieu defines social class. First is the amount of capital. Capital is a concept representing the sum total of economic capital, cultural capital and social capital. Second is the composition of capital. Bourdieu uses the concept of "capital structure" to represent the proportions of different types of capital. People have more economic capital and less cultural capital, or they have more cultural capital and less economic capital, which leads to their entirely different positions in a social class. Third, Bourdieu uses the concept of class trajectory to explain how the total social capital and the proportions that individuals and social groups have change with time-variation. He believes that different classes, different members within a class can not have the same development experience, and therefore, even members of the same class have their own special mark or style in their class habits. Bourdieu is based on the difference of total capital to divide the differentiation between French classes. Bourdieu thinks that there are three different classes in French society, namely, ruling class, middle class and working class, restraining by their class habits, members of different classes have their own unique class natures, they enter fields of different tastes and by choosing different lifestyles to show their class identity, indicating relations and social distance between themselves and the other classes. Members of different classes have different practices, they have different habitus, different tastes, including aesthetic, dietary habits, physical natures, ways of living and so on. Different consumers are different in the choice of consumption patterns. The basic characteristics of upper class emphasize forms more than functions. In eat a meal, they consider the forms of dining behavior: the lights, the music, the service. Lower classes do not consider how to eat, but what to eat, and if they are able to afford, what they are looking for are the most real materials and most affordable food (Hallam and Baum, 1996). Of course, in the process of food consumption, consumers are not entirely passive, in addition to restraining by rules of their own class, their consumption behavior also unconsciously changes the rules. Main consumers of a same class continuously form their own special habits, hobbies, tastes in food consumption process.
2.2 Micro-power theory
Micro-power theory is a theoretical system constructed by a contemporary French thinker named Michel Foucault, he explains micro-power as follows:
“But the development and generalization of disciplinary mechanisms constituted the other, dark side of these processes. The general juridical form that guaranteed a system of rights that were egalitarian in principle was supported by these tiny, everyday, physical mechanisms, by all those systems of micro-power that are essentially non-egalitarian and asymmetrical that we call the disciplines .”
He (Foucault, 1975) proposes that micro-power theory has the following two features. First, the power is everyday, tiny and specific. This is his basic judgment for power. He believes that in the whole modern society, power is already immersed in all aspects of life, it can be captured in the smallest place. Second, power is a kind of relation and a kind of network. Traditional power theory takes power as a sort of ability or a sort of resource, it is the property which can be possessed, strived for and transferred. Foucault (1975) claims that power is a kind of relation, this power relation can be considered to be in a flowing and circulated process, and this kind of power relation is not a one-way relation of dominating and being dominated, but forming a looped, interwoven network. Everyone is just a point of power relation, it can be both perpetrators of power and objects of being implemented. Based on micro-power theory, Foucault further notes that in the modern society constraining by public opinion and various means of disciplines, people increasingly have individual character. By concrete and tiny division of work, people from all walks reflect the characteristics of their own personality because of their rules and regulations, professional nature, industry characteristics, ranges of knowledge or dresses. Extending from Foucault's theory, it can be concluded that the food people eat will be affected by their disciplines, careers, ideas, knowledge and many other aspects, so by focusing on what people eat can understand some of their information and characteristics of their personalities.
2.3 Carnivalesque theory
Bakhtin is a world famous scientist, sociologist and critic, semiotician. One of the important contributions of Bakhtin’s in sociological theory is proposing carnivalesque theory. Bakhtin's carnivalesque theory divides the human world and the society into two parts, the first world is the official and serious, hierarchical world. The ruling class has unlimited power, and the civilian population is living a normal, cautious everyday life, they are cautious to and submit to of authority, power, truth, dogma. The second world is a carnival-style living, Bakhtin describes the second world as that, in the carnival world, people's behavior has not been affected by class, property, position, grade, and other factors, so the food that people eat is just their improvised choice, it can be deduced from his theory that he does not believe that the food people eat can reflect who they are.