What is Food?: Researching a Topic with Many Meanings, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

What is Food?

Researching a Topic with Many Meanings, 1st Edition

Edited by Ulla Gustafsson, Rebecca O'Connell, Alizon Draper, Andrea Tonner


216 pages | 12 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138387690
pub: 2019-12-09
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This volume brings together contributions that provide a snapshot of current food research. What is food? acknowledges the many dimensions of food, including its social, cultural, symbolic and sensual qualities, while also being material in that it is fundamental to our survival.

The collection addresses contemporary challenges and reflects the concerns of funders and researchers working in the broad field of the sociology of food: dietary health, sustainability, food safety and food poverty. Reflecting broader academic trends, the papers are moreover concerned with interdisciplinarity, the analysis of change, data reuse and the use of social media as data. The book includes empirical evidence from around the UK, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and Taiwan and addresses food both as a lens through which to examine these wider social relationships, processes and social change and as a primary subject.

The contributions will be of interest to a wide range of students and researchers looking for a cutting-edge insight into how to frame and study food in areas related to the sociology of food, health, risk, poverty, sustainability and research methods.

Table of Contents


Ulla Gustafsson, Rebecca O’Connell, Alizon Draper, Andrea Tonner

Part 1: Studying Food

1. Revisiting ‘Eating Out’ – Understanding 20 Years of Change in the Practice in Three English Cities

Jessica Paddock, Jennifer Whillans, Alan Warde, Lydia Martens

2. Food Poverty in Context: Parental Sacrifice and Children’s Experiences in Low-Income Families in the UK

Rebecca O’Connell, Abigail Knight, Julia Brannen

3. From Practices to Volumes, from Meaning to Nutrients: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Healthy and Sustainable Food Consumption

Laurence Godin, Alexi Ernstoff, Marlyne Sahakian

4. Traditional or Cultural Relativist School Meals? The Construction of Religiously Sanctioned School Meals on Social Media

Christine Persson Osowski, Ylva Mattsson Sydner

Part 2: Changes and Challenges

5. ‘I Wouldn’t Delve into It Too Much’: Public Concerns (or not) About the Contemporary UK Food Supply System

Alizon Draper, Val Gill, Hayley Lepps, Caireen Roberst, Judith Green

6. Eating Less Meat ‘to Save the Planet’: Studying the Development of Sustainable Healthy Eating Advice in the UK and Denmark

Isabel Fletcher

7. Healthy Eating, Social Class and Ethnicity: Exploring the Food Practices of South Asian Mothers

Punita Chowbey

8. The Original Taste of Real Food: The Discursive Formation of Taiwan’s Food Education

Ming-Tse Hung

9 ‘We Need to Survive’: Integrating Social Enterprises Within Community Food Initiatives

Andrea Tonner, Juliette Wilson, Katy Gordon, Eleanor Shaw

About the Editors

Ulla Gustafsson is Principal Lecturer in Sociology and Head of Partnerships and Programmes in Department of Sociology, University of Roehampton. She has published work on school meals in the UK and her research interests include young people’s food practices.

Rebecca O’Connell is Reader in the Sociology of Food and Families, Thomas Coram Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education. She is co-author, with Julia Brannen, of Food, Families, and Work (2016) and Principal Investigator of the European Research Council funded study, Families and Food in Hard Times.

Alizon Draper is a reader in food and public health at the University of Westminster. She has a background in both social anthropology and human nutrition and has been involved in extensive research in the UK and internationally on many topics relating to food and nutrition.

Andrea Tonner is a Lecturer in the Department of Marketing, at the University of Strathclyde and Co-Convenor of the BSA Food Studies Group. Her research considers food marketplaces and how consumers negotiate food consumption for health and wellbeing.

About the Series

Sociological Futures

Sociological Futures aims to be a flagship for new and innovative theories, methods and approaches to sociological issues and debates and ‘the social’ in the 21st century. This series of monographs and edited collections was inspired by vibrant wealth of BSA symposia on a wide variety of sociological themes. Edited by a team of experienced sociological researchers, and supported by the BSA, it covers a wide range of topics related to sociology and sociological research and will feature contemporary work that is theoretically and methodologically innovative, has local or global reach, as well as work that engages or reengages with classic debates in sociology bringing new perspectives to important and relevant topics.

The BSA is the professional association for sociologists and sociological research in the United Kingdom, with its extensive network of members, study groups and forums, and its dynamic programme of events. The Association engages with topics ranging from auto/biography to youth, climate change to violence against women, alcohol to sport, and Bourdieu to Weber. This book series represents the fruits of sociological enquiry, reaching a global audience, and offering a publication outlet for sociologists at all career and publishing stages, from the well-established to emerging sociologists, BSA or non-BSA members, from all parts of the world.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General