Yap Social Class

657 Words3 Pages
“Yap might well be the most rigid and rank-conscious society in Micronesia.” (Marksbury 2004:976) In traditional Yapese society strong social stratification into multiple castes and classes with distinct food habits exists. Diet in rural areas, which were not influenced by Western culture too massively, is based mostly on locally produced foods and stratification of society is coupled with strict rules regarding food habits based on purity. The purity level of a man is mirrored in his eating class. The purer is the man, the higher is his class. Men initiated into eating class, can’t accept food from anyone who is in a lower class than himself including women and children. To maintain his purity, his food must be prepared only by himself, his…show more content…
Therefore, preserving traditional differences in these conditions where everything was available to everyone became unsustainable. According to Bourdieu’s theory we would expect social classes in Yap to have various food preferences. Yet due to globalization of food trade and strong western influence that is not the case. Soon after signing of the CFA money-bought imported foods became associated with prestige and considered superior to local foods. Since they are widely available to almost anyone there is not a tremendous difference between tastes of separate classes. However, just like it was observed among upper class in France, Yapese put more emphasis on form and meaning of food than its function. It is rather a way to express one’s status and achieved power and respect within the society than something that serves merely as fuel for their bodies to function. Moreover, Yapese traditional customs in food consumption reflect dominant position of men in their social hierarchy. It is obvious not only through system of patrilineal descent but also through men’s ever-present superiority over “polluted” women. It is more important where the food comes from and how, where and by whom it is prepared than what it is. Because of all the rules that apply to its preparation as well as consumption, it is furthermore possible to draw an analogy with high emphasize put on food etiquette by members of French upper
Open Document