Thus a sociocultural system is not the product of some grand architecture expressing the First Principle most dear to one’s particular theoretical predilections. Rather, it is in a sense a temporary arrangement, a bricolage composed of systems of power, systems of convenience, and systems of need. it is materially symbolic and symbolically material. It empowers women and oppresses women, and also does neither, just as it does to men, children and the elderly, though not necessarily in equal proportions. Powerful political and economic forces undeniably order significant aspects of social and cultural life-and sometimes life is arranged in such a way that they become unexpectedly powerful and sometimes these arrangements are rearranged. If they can, actors take advantage of these ambiguities, except when they are disinclined to and don’t. It is ultimately an arrangement that works, at least for someone doing something (unless it doesn’t) until such time as someone has the interest and ability to rearrange it, or until its constituents realize (or fail to realize) that it has changed.
In: Uncertain Tastes: Memory, Ambivalence and the Politics of Eating in Samburu, Northern Kenya