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EMAC 2019 Annual Conference


Voluntary hysteresis in food consumption and in the mobilisation of power – When Jay Z and Beyoncé went vegan
(A2019-9284)

Published: May 28, 2019

AUTHORS

Outi Lundahl, University of Groningen ; Thomas Robinson, Cass Business School

KEYWORDS

hysteresis; veganism; habitus

ABSTRACT

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 mobilization of power? We do so by focusing on the case of the so-called 22 Day Diet, upon which rapper Jay Z and his pop diva wife 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. We argue that this can happen by managing the boundaries of fields and by signalling hysteresis around food consumption practices. More generally, we suggest that it is particularly the upwardly mobile who seek out voluntary hysteresis which has exclusionary potential which distinguishes them from their earlier social class.