SOC220 Assignment 2 Essay Example

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Running Head: Civilising the appetite

Civilising the Appetite


There is a relationship between appetite and hunger but the two aspects are totally different. Appetite is also dissimilar to eating. The life of a human being has a reasonable cycle that occurs from time to time. In this cycle, the drive to eat can be referred to as hunger. Appetite on the other hand is a psychological or a state of mind which causes a person to desire more food hence setting the mind to a state of hunger. Eating is what a hungry person does while appetite is the feeling of wanting to eat or an inclination to eat. This essay will discuss the argument related to appetite and the application of Elias’s model.

Appetite and civilisation

The relationship between hunger, appetite and eating is a complex one unlike the perception that many have. The three are guided by a chain of internal processes that makes people act in specific ways regarding this issue. A person has to realize their hunger in order for them to organize for food. The hunger aspect makes them restless, and uncomfortable, hence prompting them to look for ways to end the discomfort through eating. Secondly, the hunger is defined in terms of when it should be handled. Normally, there are specific set times when eating takes place, for instance, lunch time or breakfast. Even after realizing the feeling of hunger, there is the decision making process of whether to eat or not. This is guided by issues such as the source, means and type of food. In reconstructing the decision to eat or not, there are other issues to be considered such as financial status, inconveniencies or even the weather. Te link between hunger and appetite is more of a psychological one rather than a physiological one. An appetite can be set at a high or a low level depending on the physiological range a person can reach. When the appetite setting is high it leads to conditions of being overweight and suffering from bulimia and obesity. On the contrary, if it is low it leads to being underweight and suffering form anorexia (Mennell, 1996, p. 22).

The level of appetite is not only driven by hunger but also by other psychological issues such as social pressures. The body image or how people perceive themselves can be a determining factor of how high or low their appetite is. Issues of self esteem have been associated with pathological eating disorders. There is also the issue of what drives the appetite of a majority of people who are healthy and physically fit. According to Elias’s model in “the Civilising Process”, people that are overweight or underweight are usually suffering from immature personalities of some degree. The normal mature human being has the ability to control what they eat and in what amounts. They are also able to engage considerable levels of self control and this develops in to a habit that is maintained even in the long term (Mennell, 1996, p. 25).

In medieval times the culture of feasting and fasting was heavily entrenched in society unlike the world today. People were able to express emotional volatility and control over these periods f time. The ability to control appetite during these times may have been attributed to irregular eating which was most of the times inadequate, given the huge differences that existed between the rich and the poor. This was more of inevitability than choice for many people. The civilizing process entails changing emotional personalities and achieving long term change in societal structures. In this process, many things changed including the supply and abundance of food. Medieval times were characterised by disasters such as famine, diseases, fires and other hazards. As a result of this, people ended up struggling to survive and depended on the little they could find. Matters of appetite were not common as elimination of hunger was thee main goal. Compared to the modern times, humanity has become civilized and more organized when it comes to food security. The issue of appetite started coming up when the societies were becoming more civilised that they could even afford to have surplus food. The change in lifestyles began to change and that is when issues of being overweight and having eating disorders started appearing (Flammang, 2009, p. 213). The civilization of humanity can be said to be responsible for the appetite aspect and the effects it has had on society


The civilization of people came with more freedom in food availability and security and more equality in society. The appetite issue is a complex one. Civilizing the appetite entails a close relationship between qualitative and quantitative analysis of food. It is dependent on development in cooking ways that have made it possible to make good food. Changes in lifestyles and advancement in food issues have greatly affected feeding patterns and appetite as well.


Flammang, J, 2009, The Taste for Civilization: Food, Politics, and Civil Society, University of Illinois Press, Chicago

Mennell, S, 1996, Theory Culture & Society, Civilising the Appetite, Sage, London