nutritional and disease ecology

nutritional and disease ecology - In the context of scarce...

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In the context of scarce resources, what factors underlie household discrimination in food allocation or health care? Aspects of culture, economy and the environment at the community level influence which foods are acquired and how they are distributed in the most primary unit of society, the household (Netting, 1984). Only in times of famine, the advanced stages of scarcity (Young, 1992), does malnutrition uniformly effect all members of a household (Gittelsohn, 1991). During times of scarcity a household may demonstrate discrimination in it’s food allocation. Diverse factors underlie the decisions of discrimination, and can be viewed on two levels; the factors affecting the household as a whole, including poverty, culture, religion and composition or factors concerned with the individual such as age, sex, activity, life cycle or birth order (Gittelsohn, 1991). A group that pools resources, resides together, and shares subsistence activities, as a domestic whole, may be termed a ‘household’, often regarded as the foundation structure of a community (Gittelsohn, 1991). If the current situation surrounding the household results in needs going unmet in terms of food requirements, the resources may be viewed as scarce (Young, 1992).When such conditions of scarcity exist, the household often adopts a strategy of Inter-household Food Allocation (IHFA), which can be observed to discriminate against individuals within the household (Wheeler, 1991). It must be observed, that as mentioned above, a distinction has been made between food scarcity and famine; the latter being an absence, whilst the former is a shortage of available nutrition. The reasons behind scarcities are varied, possibly being related to environmental conditions, political issues and war. What will be concentrated on are the resulting factors within the household that underpin decisions to allocate food differentially between individuals. Wheeler (1991) recognises that two different methods of discrimination are practiced; that of quantity and that of quality. Although the method may alter dependent upon situation and household, it is the underlying factors behind these 1
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decisions that are to be considered in greater depth. In general, food allocation within a household is often observed to favour males (Basu et al, 1986). Gittelsohn (1991) has contended that these generalised observations are indirect assumptions due to inference of observed religious and cultural beliefs of the community in which the household is found, coupled with the data based upon mortality rate in females abstract to general trends. Although Gittelsohn’s points do raise questions on the methods and data, the existing evidence backing sex as a discriminatory factor in food allocation is strongly presented in ethnographic examples. Using examples from India, it does appear that culture is an underlying factor in instigating sexual discrimination in food allocation during times of scarce resources. Within Hindu society, even during times of
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This note was uploaded on 02/25/2012 for the course ANTH 3303 taught by Professor Hadder during the Spring '11 term at Texas State.

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nutritional and disease ecology - In the context of scarce...

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