Cultures of Child-Feeding: Parenthood and Foodwork in Families with Diverse Resources

Tuesday, 17 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Irmak KARADEMIR-HAZIR, Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom
With the rise of neoliberal health discourses around 'foodwork', parenthood and responsibility (Bell et.al 2009, McNaughton 2011), there has been a growth in the academic and popular literature aiming to ‘solve the problem’ of ‘unhealthy’ feeding by developing ‘effective parental interventions for child obesity prevention’ (Carnell et.al 2011, p.666). These studies identify parental ‘feeding styles’ and motivations (i.e. Hughes et.al 2005, Cardel et.al 2012) and quantitatively question how they relate to socioeconomic status, yet currently little is known about how feeding is understood and practices negotiated in families with different resources. To unpack differences in practices and understandings around ‘proper’ feeding, this research will draw on theories of practice (Warde 2005, Halkier et.al 2011), class (Bourdieu 1984), and parenthood (Miller 2005, 2010) and use the data collected as a part of author’s ongoing ethnographic and longitudinal project on pre-school (1-4 yo) children’s feeding. Feeding will be interpreted broadly as comprising a series of daily processes involving different family members and including parents’ emotional and domestic management of their children’s eating (Wright 2015). This more nuanced approach is achieved by using a technique of 'go along interviews', where daily practices -including shopping, cooking, feeding and eating- are shared with parents in the home and beyond. Findings will demonstrate how parental responses are shaped and routines are established -as well as ‘lived’- in the context of varying levels of cultural and economic capital and broader health and parenting discourses.