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Title: A discursive analysis of low income families' talk about food
Author: O'Key, Victoria
ISNI:       0000 0004 2746 0218
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2011
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Epidemiological studies have documented a high prevalence of poor dietary habits and associated ill-health among low socioeconomic groups in the UK. Psychological research into health behaviours, including food choices, has been dominated by socio-cognitive approaches. However, these fail to take account of socio-cultural factors, and are limited in their capacity to attend to complexity and contradictions in food choices and feeding practices. Recently, research has begun to explore food and feeding as discursive phenomena. Discursive research can attend to the intricacies of everyday food choices, and sets out to privilege individual interpretations. This thesis builds upon such discursive work, examining the talk of low-income families surrounding their food choices, feeding and eating practices. Eighteen low income families, mothers (N = 18), fathers (N = 10) and children (aged 4-10) (N = 8), were interviewed in their homes. Participants were asked about their decision making around what to eat as a family and about their own dietary preferences. Discursive analysis was conducted to explicate the local, interactional functions of participant talk, namely the ways in which participants constructed and accounted for food and feeding decisions. Parents constructed their children's taste preferences and appetite in complex ways. These embodied states were attributed a range of causes by parents (e.g. physiological and behavioural). Each had implications for feeding decisions, such as when it was deemed appropriate for parents to feed a child food they disliked. The analysis also explored parents' conceptualisations of their own eating practices and how these were presented differently from their children's. Other key findings included a lack of orientation in participants' talk to healthy eating, and a privileging of other features relating to food, such as satiation. Implications are discussed in terms of everyday feeding and eating decisions, as well as the wider socio-cultural context (e.g. health campaigns). The current findings challenge the exacting frame of health messages, and suggest that there is a need to foster narrative space for participant values surrounding food and feeding.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available