The Anthropology of Food – Assignment #1

For this assignment, find a television that is connected to a “real time” broadcast network (not Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc.). Please let me know if you don’t have access to a live broadcast. Watch for one hour, using the Advertising Log to keep track of all the advertisements that are broadcast. Log all food, drink commercials to LOG for an hour of watching all television network.

Choose one of the advertisements that featured food. Watch it a few times by using the search function on
First, use your anthropological observational skills to describe what happens in the advertisement in as much detail as possible, including who and what is shown, how sound and music are used, and how text or narration is deployed.

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Next, analyze the advertisement using one of the anthropological perspectives we discussed in class (Mary Douglas’s view, Marvin Harris’ view on the “adominable pig, or on Roland Barthes’ view): is the food primarily described functionally as a source of nutrition, symbolically as a medium through which to communicate cultural messages, or situationally as a context for social activity? Be sure to cite Douglas, Harris, or Barthes in your discussion.

Once you have analyzed the advertisement, consider what message it sends to its target audience. What assumptions about race, gender, class, or generation are being reinforced through the specific food advertising. Keep in mind when and where it was being aired, who you think the target audience might be, and the advertiser’s goals (beyond or in addition to selling a product). Don’t forget to include the Ad Log in your submission.
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3 pages (not including the Ad Log), Times New Roman, 12-point double-spaced

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