Being “Good” and “Smart” Consumers: Communication about Food Risks

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 16:30
Location: Hörsaal 46 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Miyoko ENOMOTO, Tokyo International University, Japan
In sociology, we have rich studies about food and risk. However, we face new phenomena day by day. When we discuss food related to risk or the risk society, we have to think about at least two aspects at the same time.

  One involves functional or so-called techno-foods. There are many functional foods that protect our body from health risks. It is recommended that we aim for zero risk by eating functional foods.

  The other aspect is an important issue in Japan, because after the Great East Japan Earthquake, laypeople have been facing a big problem with the radioactive contamination of food, and boycotting or product delivery refusals still continue.  It is recommended in the name of reconstruction aid that we support producers in disaster-affected areas by eating the food from these areas. The criticism against people wishing to have zero risk from their food increases. It brings about division regarding what one eats or does not eat. Here, the focus is on “risk communication” as a form of politics and a new type of communication skill.

  I use data from group interviews, government discourses and other sources to discuss these issues. I consider that there are these two aspects to any case: laypeople as “good” and “smart” consumers are made much of rather than acknowledging that as the nation we have rights of the health. It is recommended, on the one hand, that we aim for zero risk (to future health) by eating functional food based on its scientific name, while on the other hand, it is forbidden that we find zero risk in food (for example by not eating something) by saying that this is not correct scientifically. I clarify how risks over food and eating are related to stirring up our greed as “good” consumers.