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Title: The entrepreneurial self : food cultures and young people's transition to adulthood
Author: Richmond, Martyn John
ISNI:       0000 0004 7660 4097
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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The study conducts an ethnographic examination of the meanings which food has for young people, in their performance of becoming adult. It uses Giddens' understanding of self-identity as a theoretical lens with which to inspect their performances. A social semiotic multimodal analysis is made of young people's visual artifacts, about an aspect of food which mattered to them, and interviews with them. The study provides a view of their engagement with adult food culture that is about their learning to manage more independent lives, and learning to adapt to a future, in which a 'self-entrepreneurial' disposition - that is a commitment to perpetual self-improvement - is required of adults in a rapidly changing, globalized, and increasingly neo-liberalised world. We see how this engagement frames a moral repertoire for them; but also produces contradictions with the desire for social belonging which they must deal with. The analysis identifies, first, how young women dissociate themselves from dysfunctional relationships with food, including eating disorders, by construing a version of themselves that is self-improving. Second, the analysis shows how healthy eating is an important framework for young men and young women with which they measure their self-entrepreneurial selves, and dissociate themselves from the popular conflation of unhealthy eating, social dependence and unsuccessful lives. Third, the analysis shows their appropriation of ideal values for food's social function as another driver of young people's self-entrepreneurial narratives: re-centring the basis of future self-development within the self. Fourth, the analysis shows that in addressing consumer taste, young people cooperate in constructing a meritocratic legitimacy for social differentiation, focused upon the possession of a self-entrepreneurial disposition: the commitment to self-improvement and social aspiration. The study disentangles the representation of young people's relation to food as problematic from their actual, subjective lives and cultural work.
Supervisor: Burn, A. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available