Sociology and History of Food


This curricular unit intends to provide skills for understanding the food phenomenon in all its complexity.
At the end of the course, the student should have knowledge about:
a) The evolution of eating habits of humanity from its origins to today;
b) The body and health as a social construction. Main relevant sociological concepts for the analysis of social conditions in the health-disease and its relationship to food in contemporary society.
c) The act of feeding and eating habits acquired in the socialization process;
d) Foods analyzed from a political, ethical, sustainability and risk perspectives.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Prof.ª Doutora Iva Miranda Pires


Weekly - Available soon

Total - Available soon

Teaching language





Barreto M, Gaio V, Kislaya I, Antunes L, Rodrigues AP, Silva AC, Vargas P, Prokopenko T, Santos AJ, Namorado S, Gil AP, Alves CA, Castilho E, Cordeiro E, Dinis A, Nunes B, Dias CM. (2016). 1º Inquérito Nacional de Saúde com Exame Físico (INSEF 2015): Estado de Saúde. Lisboa: INSA IP.
Beck, Ulrich, (1992). Risk society. Towards a New Modernity, Londres: Sage.
Berry et al. (2015).  Food security and sustainability: can one exist without the other?. Public Health Nutrition: 18(13), 2293–2302
Bevilacqua, S. (2010). “Un « régime méditerranéen » bon à penser”, Anthropology of food 7 / dezembro,
Braga, Isabel M.Drumond (2010). Sabores do Brasil em Portugal. Descobrir e transformar novos alimentos (séculos XVI-XXI), Editora Senac, São Paulo.
Capone, Roberto et al (2014). Food System Sustainability and Food Security: Connecting the Dots. Journal of Food Security, Vol. 2, No. 1, 13-22.
Carapinheiro, Graça (1986). “A saúde no contexto da sociologia”, Sociologia Problemas e Práticas (1) 9-22.
Davidson, Alan (2015). Social Determinants of Health – a comparative approach. London: Oxford University Press.
Evans, D. (2012). Beyond the throwaway society: ordinary domestic practice and a sociological approach to household food waste. Sociology 46(1) 41–56.
Fichler, Claude, L'homnivore (1990). Le goût, la cuisine et le corps, Odile Jacob, Paris.
Flandrin, Jean-Louis - Montanari, Massimo (1996). Histoire de l’alimentation, Fayard, Paris.
Gaio, V., Antunes L, Namorado S, Barreto M, Gil, A.P., Kyslaya I., Rodrigues AP, Santos A, Bøhler L, Castilho E, Vargas P, do Carmo I, Nunes B, Dias CM (2017). Prevalence of overweight and obesity in Portugal: Results from the First Portuguese Health Examination Survey (INSEF). Obesity Research & Clinical Practice, 12. pii: S1871-403X(17)30077-7. doi: 10.1016/j.orcp.2017.08.002. [Epub ahead of print]
Gregório, Maria João, Pedro  Graça, Andreia Costa, e Paulo Jorge  Nogueira (2014). “Time and Regional perspectives of food insecurity during the economic crisis in Portugal, 2011-2013.” Saúde e Sociedade, Vol.23 (4): 1127-1141. 
Instituto de Medições e Avaliação da Saúde (IHME), (2019). "Health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries, 1990-2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017" , Lancet, Washington,in
Marmot, Michael (2005). “Social determinants of Health Inequalities.” The Lancet vol 365, 2005: 1099-1104.
Mcqueen, D., Kickbusch, I, Potvin, L.; Pelikan, J., Balbo, L., Abel, A. (2007). Health modernity - The Role of Theory in Health Promotion, Springer.
Murphy,  Sophia e Schiavoni, Christina M. (2017). Dez anos após a crise alimentar mundial: enfrentar o desafio do direito à alimentação. Observatório do Direito à Alimentação e Nutrição, pp 19-30.
Namorado S, Santos J, Antunes L, Kislaya I, Santos AJ, Castilho E, Cordeiro E, Dinis A, Barreto M, Gaio V, Gil AP, Rodrigues AP, Silva AC, Alves CA, Vargas P, Prokopenko T, Nunes B, Dias CM. (2017). 1º Inquérito Nacional de Saúde com Exame Físico (INSEF 2015): Estado de Saúde. Lisboa: INSA IP.
Nettleton, Sarah (2006). “The sociology of the body”. In The sociology of health and Illness. Cambridge: Polity Press (pp. 104-136)
Ornellas e Castro, Inês de (2011). “Prática médica e alimentação nos textos portugueses seiscentistas” in Fontes da Costa, P. e Cardoso, A. (coord.) Percursos na História do Livro Médico (1450-1800),Colibri, Lisboa, 73-91.
Ornellas e Castro, Inês de (2012). “Discursos e Rituais na Mesa Romana: luxo, moralismo e equívocos” in Carmen Soares e Paula Barata Dias (coord.), Contributos para a História da Alimentação na Antiguidade, col. Humanitas Supplementum, 69-79. URL:
Palfrey, C. (2018). The future for Health promotion, Policy Press. Nettleton, Sarah (2006) “The sociology of the body”. In The sociology of health and Illness. Cambridge: Polity Press (pp. 104-136)
Pires, Iva (2018). Desperdício Alimentar. Série Ensaios, nº86. Lisboa: Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos.
Poulain, Jean-Pierre (2004). “A obesidade e a medicalização da alimentação cotidiana”. In Sociologia da Alimentação: os comedores e o espaço social alimentar. Florianópolis: UFSC. (pp. 113-147)
Prüss-Ustün J. Wolf C. Corvalán T. Neville R. Bos M. Neira (2017). Diseases due to unhealthy environments: an updated estimate of the global burden of disease attributable to environmental determinants of health, Journal of Public Health, Volume 39, Issue 3, 1 September, Pages 464–475.
Richter, B., (2017). Knowledge and perception of food waste among German consumers. J. Clean. Prod. 166, 641-648.
Silva, L. (2008). Saber Prático de Saúde. As lógicas do Saudável no Quotidiano, Porto: Edições Afrontamento.
Silva, L. F (2013). Saúde e Doença no saber Leigo, in Alves, Fátima (Org.), Saúde, Medicina e Sociedade. Uma visão sociológica, Lisboa: Pactor, p. 171-178.
Sobral, J. M. (2007). “Nacionalismo, Culinária e Classe: a Cozinha Portuguesa da Obscuridade à Consagração (séculos XIX-XX)”, in Ruris, 2, Revista do Centro de Estudos Rurais e Urbanos, IFCH-Unicamp, Campinas: 13-52.
Zundel, Trudi e Ribeiro, Silvia (2018). Que Comam dados! Quando os alimentos se tornam imateriais: confrontar a era digital. Observatório do Direito à Alimentação e Nutrição

Teaching method

The course is organized in lectures: 2 weekly lectures of 50 min long each. The course will be taught by professors from the Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Universidade Nova de Lisboa.

Evaluation method

The evaluation include a written work and a final exam graded from 0 to 20.

Subject matter

Introduction to the program, its structure and content and assessment (Iva Pires)
I. History of Food
1. Food as a medicine:
1.1 From dietetics first steps to the Western Authorities Canon
1.2 The Humoral Theories and the Great Chain of Beings: building and evolution of a doctrine
1.3 The three phases of healing: the importance of a diet
1.4 Food in Portuguese Hygiene Treaties until 18th century
2. Sharing a territory, sharing a culture (Ancient Mediterranean and Medieval Europe):
2.1 Rural / urban space: agricultural space organization and autarkic regime ideals
2.2 Religions and table liturgy: immortality foods and sacrificial cuisine
2.3 Maritime trade routes and fluvial resources: luxuries versus resources
2.4 Preserving food products ancestral ways
3. Europe and (un) continued inheritances
3.1 Monastery gardens and kitchens: sugars, "mezinhas" and perfumes
3.2 Honey and sugar cane
3.3 The spices return and the Discoveries
4. The 16th century and the Oriental and New World species disclosure
4.1 Food types and diets: dietary variables
4.2 New products assimilation in the Iberian and Mediterranean areas: turkey, corn maize, potatoes, tomatoes, etc ...
4.3 The new sociability drinks introduction: tea, coffee and chocolate.
5. Food and conviviality
5.1 The table sociability models: space, bodies and service
5.2 From French service to Russian service: the implication in product choices and cooking techniques
6. Aesthetics, "Good taste" and cuisine identity
6.1 The table aesthetics and the "good taste" concept triumph (late 17th-18th century)
6.2 Cookbooks: the "French" cuisine hegemony in Europe; the first called "Portuguese" recipes

II. Sociology of Health and Food
1. The social construction of health and disease
2. Body and health as social constructions
3. Health Determinants of in a globalized world
4. Portuguese population Health status and its determinants: healthy versus risk behaviors
5. Health in everyday life and health promotion
6. Changes in diet and health conceptions
6.1. “Diets”, obesity and body images
6.2. Obesity and food consumption medicalization
7. Food and identities construction

III. The Future Challenges of Food in the Context of the Anthropocene
1. Globalization and food in the 21st century: from production to food distribution; the globalization of food chains
2. Food financing, dematerialization and digitalization
3. Food analyzed from a political, ethical, sustainability and risk perspectives
3.1 Food sovereignty
3.2 Food security
3.3 Food waste
3.4 Risks and food safety
4. Controversial topics around food and nutrition
4. 1 GMOs, yes or no?
4.2 Meat consumption, is it really necessary to reduce it?
4.3 The use of pesticides and the impact on the environment and on human health
5. Linking History, Sociology, Health and Sustainability
Learning from the past to promote healthy diets and sustainable food systems to feed 9 billion people within the “safe operating space of Humanity”


Programs where the course is taught: