Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Making Taste Public: Industrialized Orders of Sensing and the Democratic Potential of Experimental Eating

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Abstract:  Existing discussions of food democracy focus on people’s freedom to choose healthy, sustainable, or otherwise ‘good’ foods. Such foods are supposed to be unrestrained by oligopolistic structures of food supply, economic inequality, misinformation, or the misleading lobbying campaigns of the food industry. Our article aims to broaden the discussion about food democracy: focusing on people’s freedom to choose the food they want, but also on people’s freedom to engage with what they eat and how they want to eat it. This thematizes collective orders of sensing and, more specifically, taste. Based on pragmatist and praxeological studies we pose that tasting food is a matter of historically grown collective practices. In a second step, we assert that the reflexive shaping of such practices is currently dominated by the food industry and related forms of sensory science. Democratizing taste is a matter of people’s capacity to self-govern how they experience and enjoy food. To this end, we suggest the approach of ‘experimental eating’ as a way to question and reflexively engage with embodied forms of tasting. We report on the development of methods that, in a next step, are to be combined for a participatory exhibition inviting people to experimentally reconfigure their habitual tasting practices and experience agency in matters of shaping taste. The exhibition makes taste public by demonstrating the construction of sensory experience in eating practices. It positions taste as a collective issue which every human being can experiment with—and thus to contest the governance of taste as currently exercised by industrial corporations and scientific experts.

Keywords:  eating sociology; experimental eating; food democracy; food studies; sensory studies; taste



© Jan-Peter Voß, Michael Guggenheim. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.