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A fortune in cookies? : changing contexts of consumption and the emergence of the industrial palate in Hong Kong MacLeod, Scott Alexander


This paper examines the process of converging and industrializing food habits in Hong Kong. It does this by examining changes in the food system as a whole, placing consumption patterns in the context of the local food system and local social formation. In turn, local dynamics are placed in a global context. It is within the global context that the geographical homogenization of available foodstuffs is occurring. It is, however, in local place where the processes and trends are manifested. The paper begins with a discussion of the research issues and questions that surround the studies of consumption, food habits and Hong Kong. There is then a section which deals with the nature of food as an industrial commodity and the nature of the world industrial food system. The logic behind the geographical homogenization is drawn out of this discussion. The paper then turns to the geographical setting of the Hong Kong case; first describing the nature of the local social formation then moving on to consider changes in the local food system in the post Second World War period. Changes in the import/export profile, the local food production economy and the local circulatory sphere are outlined. These areas exhibit a tendency to capital intensification and internationalization. Finally changes in the actual consumption patterns of the people of Hong Kong are addressed. The conclusion of the analysis is that the Hong Kong social formation and the Hong Kong food system are undergoing a radical transformation: one where globally articulated capitalist 'patterns of regulation' are coming to shape the nature of agency in regards to food consumption in the local place that is Hong Kong.

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