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Food, Globalization, Modernities, Tanzania, India, Order and Disorder

Food Trust, Ethics and Safety in Risk Society.

Reidar Almas
Sociological Research Online 4 (3) almas

Keywords: Environment.; Food Scandals; Genetic Modified Foods; Health; Individualisation; Precautionary Principle; Reflexive Modernity; Regulation; Risk Society; Trust
Abstract: We are living in the age of mad cow disease. Through large scale bulletins in the media, we have learned about food scandals that threaten both our health and our environment. This has raised problems like: Who can we trust? And what type of food production can be regarded as ethically defensible in our day and age? And finally, how does the precautionary principle apply to the way we evaluate food and risk. The likelihood of becoming sick from the next meal has probably never been less than it is today. Yet at the same time, we know less than ever about the long-term consequences of today's food production. Ulrich Beck argued more than 10 years ago that we are moving from "industrial society" to "risk society". While industrial society was structured through social classes, risk society is individualised. Beck's individualisation thesis is central to being able to understand how individuals handle risks through composing their own risk identity profile. Because the different experts "dump their contradictions and conflicts at the feet of the individual" (Beck 1992:137), he or she has to find biographical solutions to handle risks. Where to live, what to eat, where to take a vacation, what clothes to wear, with whom to mingle and to have sex with is up to the individual. And it is not like in simple modernity anymore, when the regulatory authorities took care of the risks and kept the foods you should not eat out of the country. The reflexive burden is placed upon the shoulders of the individual. So is also the case when it comes to genetic modified foods and debates around this. Even if these new foods are labelled, the consumer has to choose which experts to believe before to buy and eat. It is not the case any more that all experts agree and that the public food control institutions will tell you what to do. In the future there will be new food scandals in Europe that will threaten health and the environment. Such food scandals will be a central feature in what people experience as "risk society". Expertise in the social sciences will gradually be given a new role as "experts on peoples' concerns".

Agricultural Biotechnology: Its Recent Evolution and Implications for Agrofood Political Economy

Fred Buttel
Sociological Research Online 4 (3) buttel

Keywords: Agriculture; Biotechnology; Consumption; European Union; Food; Political Economy; Social Movements; Trade; World Trade Organization
Abstract: This paper provides an overview of the recent development of the agricultural biotechnology sector and suggests what are likely to be some of the major issues in agrofood biotechnology in the future. I argue that while biotechnology has become increasingly entrenched as an approach to agrofood research and development, there are enormous public and especially corporate resources committed to biotechnology, and the growth of GMO market share in U.S. soybean, corn, and cotton production has been impressive, there has recently been growth of social resistance to biotechnology that casts the technology's and industry's future in some doubt. In addition to discussing the extent and limits of social resistance to biotechnology, I explore several other facets of agrofood biotechnology--global consolidation of the biotechnology industry, trade in GMO-produced food products, and the new corporate focus on "value-enhanced crops"--that will have a critical bearing on its future. I conclude by suggesting that while social resistance to agrofood biotechnology is very unlikely to derail the industry, public opposition will shape corporate strategy and could possibly shape research priorities in public biotechnology research.

Necessary Evils? Opening up Closings in Sociology and Biotechnology

Les Gofton and Erica Haimes
Sociological Research Online 4 (3) gofton

Keywords: Biotechnologies; Comparative; Consumption; Food; Genetics; Medicine; Science And Knowledge; Sociology
Abstract: This paper argues for an opening up of the theoretical and empirical closure on issues related to biotechnology. It argues that the real differences between issues and approaches in the disparate areas where genetic modification is used, from medicine to food production, have tended, for specific reasons , to be treated as though they could all be subsumed within a common set of issues and theoretical perspectives. Using examples from the existing sociological work in medicine and food, the paper presents an argument against the commonly assumed theoreticÝprimacy of scientific discourses, often focussed on common issues of risk, and the related assumption thatÝresistance to the introduction of gm products is best addressed by providing information and education. It argues rather that we need to treat each area as a very particularÝresearch topic, and to maintain a clearÝnotion of the variety of perspectives needingÝto be employed in treating quite distinct applications of these varied technologies.

Moral Tensions Between Western and Islamic Cultures: The Need for Additional Sociological Studies of Dissonance in the Wake of September 11

Benet Davetian
Sociological Research Online 6 (3) davetian

Keywords: Courtesy; Ethics; Family; Globalization; Iran; Morality; Religion; Sexual Permissiveness; Sexuality; Terrorism
Abstract: This article suggests that, in the wake of the events of September 11th, it would be an error for sociologists and political analysts to concentrate on revisions of economic and political theory while not paying equal attention to the moral tensions between Islamic and Western cultures. It proposes that economic and geopolitical research be expanded to include bilateral studies of Western and Islamic conceptions of morality and standards of right and wrong. The argument is based on the proposition that certain Western liberal attitudes threaten Islamic peoples' commitment to the traditional family, thereby delaying conflict resolution and providing terrorists with additional venues for "justifying" their acts.

Confronting 'Uncivil Society' and the 'Dark Side of Globalization': are Sociological Concepts up to the Task?

Chris Rumford
Sociological Research Online 6 (3) rumford

Keywords: Civil Society; Dark Side Of Globalization; Globalization; International Terrorism; Uncivil Society
Abstract: International terrorism is frequently categorized as one element of 'uncivil society' or as the 'dark side of globalization.' The paper examines these concepts, finding them unhelpful in understanding the context for the September 11 attacks in the US. Their weakness derives in large part from the uncritical usage of the terms 'civil society' and 'globalization' characteristic of much contemporary sociological work. In consequence, sociology is in danger of being marginalized from public debate about the most important issues of our day.

Back to the Future: 'Islamic Terrorism' and Interpretations of Past and Present

Stephen Vertigans and Phil Sutton
Sociological Research Online 6 (3) vertigans

Keywords: Radical Islam, Globalization, Socialization, Double Legitimacy, Historical Interpretation
Abstract: Commentaries on September's acts of terrorism have tended to rely upon secular accounts to explain both the terrorism and the wider, less violent Islamic resurgence. This has meant that the explanatory focus has been upon threats to Muslims, the negative impact of globalization and interrelated modernization and the role of America within global relations and the Middle East in particular. These generalisations are problematic because they fail to explain the broader appeal of Islam, the character and contemporary nature of Islamic movements and in the instance of the terrorists and al-Qa'ida, the relatively wealthy and educated backgrounds of a significant number of the terrorists. As a corrective, the paper expands the focus to include the awareness of contemporary problems and the historical origins and successes of Islam that are both seen to legitimise the need for a radical form of Islam, interpreted as a comprehensive way of life. This awareness has been significantly aided through contemporary developments in technology, mass communications and transport networks allied to the rapid growth of education across Muslim countries. These factors, rather than diminishing the appeal of religion, as secularists have argued, are instrumental in the Islamic resurgence generally and specifically in facilitating terrorist activity.

Thinking Global but Acting Local: the Middle Classes in the City

Tim Butler
Sociological Research Online 7 (3) butler

Keywords: Gentrification. Middle Classes. London. Metropolitan Habitus. Bourdieu. Social Capital. Globalization.
Abstract: The paper advances the notion that there is 'metropolitan habitus' in large global cities such as London which distinguishes it from other conurbations in the United Kingdom. At the same time, it is argued that whilst London is becoming an increasingly middle-class city, this group is increasingly stratified along socio-spatial lines. Richard Sennett's work The Corrosion of Character is drawn upon to suggest that, to some extent, different gentrification strategies enable the metropolitan middle classes to compensate for the lack of a long term in contemporary middle-class life.Drawing on fieldwork, recently conducted in five gentrified areas of inner London north and south of the Thames, it is suggested that an important aspect of the socio spatial differentiation within the metropolitan middle class is whether it seeks to embrace or escape the contemporary globalization of consumer culture. Although this process is highly nuanced by individual strategies for negotiating the boundaries between the global and the local, which are exemplified by the distinction between residential areas and the centre of London, it is nevertheless suggested that these socio-spatial divisions account for variations within the metropolitan habitus to a greater extent than socio- demographic and occupational divisions which are only weakly associated with the global/non-global dichotomisation. The paper uses both quantitative and qualitative data to look at the different ways in which cultural, economic and social capital are drawn on in the gentrification of each area and how these reflect not only the capabilities but also the proclivities of the different groups concerned. It is suggested that metropolitan habitus is a concept that needs further analysis and research but which has considerable potential explanatory value in accounting for differences between the middle classes in London and other provincial cities and non urban areas.

Global Visions and Globalizing Corporations: an Analysis of Images and Texts from Fortune Global 500 Companies

Peter Robbins
Sociological Research Online 9 (2) robbins

Keywords: Capitalism; Globalization; Image; Narrative; Semiotics; Transnational Corporation
Abstract: Transnational corporations (TNCs) have a central role to play in globalization. At the same time, globalization carries risks for the corporation, and not all of those associated with TNCs may support globalization. While much of the globalization literature suggests that corporations are globalizing their production systems, or contributing to a global culture, there is little exploration of how globalization is framed and mediated within the corporate community itself. This article employs a semiotic analysis of images and texts from annual reports of Fortune Global 500 corporations. It argues that globalizing TNCs generate several narratives geared to persuading employees, shareholders, business partners and members of the financial community of the merits of globalization. They can be divided into at least three types geared to brand, industry leadership or organization. The narratives all have common themes to the extent that they are rooted in a customer focus, but they also demonstrate multiple and sometimes ambiguous global aspirations and expectations.

Tsunami Diplomacy: Will the 26 December, 2004 Bring Peace to the Affected Countries?

Ilan Kelman
Sociological Research Online 10 (1) kelman

Keywords: Disaster Diplomacy, Tsunami Diplomacy, Indonesia, India, Disaster Risk Reduction, Politics
Abstract: Disaster diplomacy examines whether or not disasters induce international cooperation amongst enemy countries. The 26 December, 2004 tsunami around the Indian Ocean impacted more than a dozen countries, many with internal or external conflicts, thereby providing an opportunity to explore how the same event affects different countries in different disaster diplomacy contexts. Two groups of case studies are presented: those from which few disaster diplomacy outcomes are likely and those which warrant monitoring and investigation. Indonesian tsunami diplomacy is used as a case study for further discussion, in terms of both American-Indonesian relations and the conflict in Aceh. Further work is suggested in the tsunami's aftermath in order to understand better the disaster diplomacy outcomes which are feasible and why they rarely yield positive, lasting results.

'Is It Real Food?' Who Benefits from Globalisation in Tanzania and India?

Pat Caplan
Sociological Research Online 11 (4) caplan

Keywords: Food, Globalization, Modernities, Tanzania, India, Order and Disorder
Abstract: Almost twenty years ago, the French anthropologist Claude Fischler wrote: 'To identify a food, one has to "think" it, to understand its place in the world and therefore understand the world.' For several decades I have been carrying out research among peasant cultivators on the East African coast (since 1965) and among the middle classes in Chennai (formerly Madras), South India (since 1974). During those periods, there have been marked changes in food consumption patterns in both areas. Recent research on local views of modernities in Tanzania suggests that food is an important way for people to conceptualise some of the dis-orders which have arisen as a result of current neo-liberal policies. In Chennai, on the other hand, my most recent research suggests that the consumption of 'modern' food is welcomed by the middle classes, especially by younger people, as being associated with global cosmopolitanism. In both areas, however, as might be expected, much depends on context and positionality and thus multiple and sometimes competing voices can be heard. In this paper, I examine local responses to changing food consumption patterns in order to understand local knowledge of food and the world.

A Reflexive Account of Reusing Qualitative Data: Beyond Primary/secondary Dualism

Libby Bishop
Sociological Research Online 12 (3) 2

Keywords: Convenience Food, Data Archives, Qualitative Data, Reflexivity, Data Re-Use, Secondary Analysis
Abstract: Though secondary analysis of qualitative data is becoming more prevalent, relatively few methodological studies exist that provide reflection on the actual, not idealised, process. This paper offers a reflexive account of secondary analysis focused on the topic of convenience food and choice. Several phases of the research process are examined: understanding context, defining a subject area, finding data and sampling, later sampling and topic refinement, and relating to transcripts. For each phase, I explore if reusing data is different from using it in the first instance, and if so, how those differences manifest themselves. The paper closes with reflections on the differences, similarities, and relationships between primary and secondary analysis of qualitative data. Although differences exist regarding the researcher-respondent relationship, primary and secondary analyses are more alike than not. The suitability of each approach can only be assessed in light of a particular research question.

'If the Food Looks Dodgy I Dinnae Eat It': Teenagers' Accounts of Food and Eating Practices in Socio-Economically Disadvantaged Families

Wendy J. Wills, Kathryn Backett-Milburn, Sue Gregory and Julia Lawton
Sociological Research Online 13 (1) 15

Keywords: Teenagers; Food and Eating Practices; Family Meals; Socio-Economic Disadvantage; Consumption; Family Relationships
Abstract: This paper examines how young teenagers living in socio-economically disadvantaged families perceive everyday food and eating practices within the home. From in-depth interviews with 36 Scottish teenagers aged 13-14 years, we analysed teenagers' accounts of contemporary 'family meals'. We found that food and eating practices were negotiated amidst complex family arrangements with extended, resident and non-resident kin. Parents were often reported to provide food 'on demand', a flexible arrangement which seemed to reflect both teenagers' and parents' lifestyles and personal relationships. Teenagers often contested the consumption of particular foods which sometimes reflected and reinforced their relationship with a biological or non-biological parent. Teenagers could differentiate themselves from others through their food preferences and tastes and food consumption therefore helped shaped their identity. Many teenagers claimed that parents set rules regarding food and eating, thereby creating boundaries within which their consumption choices had to remain. We discuss whether and how these findings are a reflection of the socio-economic status of the participating families and conclude that exploring food and eating practices is a powerful lens for the examination of family life.

Balancing Food Risks and Food Benefits: the Coverage of Probiotics in the UK National Press

Brigitte Nerlich and Nelya Koteyko
Sociological Research Online 13 (3) 1

Keywords: Food Risks, Food Benefits, Probiotics, Media, Risk Society, Medicalisation
Abstract: The 1980s and 1990s were marked by a series of food crisis, environmental disasters and the emergence of so-called 'superbugs'. At the same time, social scientists, such as Ulrich Beck, began to study the rise of a modern 'risk society'. The late 1990s and early years of this new millennium have been marked by increasing consumer interest in organic and natural foods but also in novel food products, such as probiotics or friendly bacteria which, as supplements or added to yoghurts, promise to help fight various effects of 'modernity', from stress to superbugs. Using thematic analysis and corpus linguistic tools, this article charts the rise of probiotics from 1985 to 2006 and asks: How did this rise in popularity come about? How did science and the media contribute to it? And: How were these bacteria enlisted as agents of attitudinal change? Analysing the construction of certain food benefits in the context of a heightened state of anxiety about food risk might shed light on aspects of 'risk society' that have so far been overlooked.

White Memories, White Belonging: Competing Colonial Anniversaries in 'Postcolonial' East London

Georgie Wemyss
Sociological Research Online 13 (5) 8

Keywords: Bengal, Bangladeshi, Bengali, East End, British Empire, Postcolonial, Whiteness, Belonging, Jamestown, East India Company
Abstract: This paper explores how processes of remembering past events contribute to the construction of highly racialised local and national politics of belonging in the UK. Ethnographic research and contextualised discourse analysis are used to examine two colonial anniversaries remembered in 2006: the 1606 departure of English 'settlers' who built the first permanent English colony in North America at Jamestown, Virginia, and the 1806 opening of the East India Docks, half a century after the East India Company took control of Bengal following the battle of Polashi. Both events were associated with the Thames waterfront location of Blackwall in the east London borough of Tower Hamlets, an area with the highest Bengali population in Britain and significant links with North America through banks and businesses based at the regenerated Canary Wharf office complex. It investigates how discourses and events associated with these two specific anniversaries and with the recent 'regeneration' of Blackwall, contribute to the consolidation of the dominant 'mercantile discourse' about the British Empire, Britishness and belonging. Challenges to the dominant discourse of the 'celebration' of colonial settlement in North America by competing discourses of North American Indian and African American groups are contrasted with the lack of contest to discourses that 'celebrate' Empire stories in contemporary Britain. The paper argues that the 'mercantile discourse' in Britain works to construct a sense of mutual white belonging that links white Englishness with white Americaness through emphasising links between Blackwall and Jamestown and associating the values of 'freedom and democracy' with colonialism. At the same time British Bengali belonging is marginalised as links between Blackwall and Bengal and the violence and oppression of British colonialism are silenced. The paper concludes with an analysis of the contemporary mobilisation of the 'mercantile discourse' in influential social policy and 'regeneration' discourse about 'The East End'.

The Rise and Fall of the Jumbo Breakfast Roll: How a Sandwich Survived the Decline of the Irish Economy

Perry Share
Sociological Research Online 16 (2) 2

Keywords: Fast Food; Ireland; Culture; Economic Conditions; Celtic Tiger; Convenience Stores; Baking Technology; Sandwich
Abstract: This paper examines a specific food item - the Jumbo Breakfast Roll [JBR] - through a sociological lens, in order to trace the factors that contributed to its rise to prominence in Irish food culture in the 'Celtic Tiger' period of the late 20th/early 21st century. It also examines the development of these factors in the period following the crash of the Irish bubble economy. It is argued that the JBR arose at the intersection of a number of key trends in the food technology, retail, transport, distribution and construction sectors. Yet the JBR also had its antecedents in established foodways and traditions. It reflects on how the JBR could be interpreted as a 'national dish' that symbolised a particular moment in contemporary Irish society, and raises the possibility that a sociologically-informed analysis of such emblematic dishes allows us to explore aspects of national society, culture and economy within a globalised world.

Organic Hummus in Israel: Global and Local Ingredients and Images

Rafi Grosglik
Sociological Research Online 16 (2) 3

Keywords: Globalization, Localization, Cosmopolitism, Organic Food, Hummus, Commodification, Israeli Culture
Abstract: Hummus is an ancient traditional dish in Middle Eastern Cultures. In Israel it is one of the most common foods, appropriated as an icon of Israeli culture and nationality. Today, hummus is served in Israel in many restaurants, and is even distributed as a commercially packaged spread sold in supermarkets. Organic hummus – a recent version of the dish – is influenced by global trends of ethical and reflexive food consumption. Organic food is conceived as the 'spearhead' opposing the consequences of globalization. It is customary to view it as representing locality, health, ecology and social justice. But it also embodies representations of globalism and westernism, mainly because of its integration in the global industrial system and its origin among the post-materialistic-social elite in western countries. This article deals with the encounter of the global and the local as embodied in organic hummus in Israel. Looking at the production, distribution, and consumption of this dish uncovers social and political layers embedded in it. I will argue that the global socio-economic conditions and ideas embedded in the concept of organic attached to hummus are the ones which allow – paradoxically – the imagined re-localization of the dish. Organic hummus in Israel is a dish steeped in paradoxical aspects, and therefore characterized by culinary-ideological-dissonance. Hummus is a dish that was perceived as representing rootedness, earthiness, and local simplicity, but nowadays, in its organic version, it wears an economic and symbolic framework of global values used by the Israeli westernizing elite to demonstrate a widespread-environmental cosmopolitan identity.

Conceptualising Food as Death: A Radical Environmentalist Politics of Food

Julie van Kemenade
Sociological Research Online 16 (2) 4

Keywords: Food, Death, Conceptualisation, Semiotics, Environmental Philosophies
Abstract: Research into the politics of food cannot assume universal acceptance of what is meant by the term 'food' which has multiple meanings and significantly different associations. A semiotic approach demonstrates the meaning and value of this point. Food has variously been conceptualised as process and as commodity, nature or culture. None of these tropes are value neutral, but are associated with opposing priorities and conflicts of interest. Drawing from ecocentric and anthropocentric environmental philosophies, an alternative trope, that of food-as-death, can be developed, which challenges other, more dominant, tropes. Semiotics denies the notion that language 'mirrors' reality. Rather, language creates reality. Semiotics, then, can be useful in developing alternative realities. To conceptualise food as death is more than using death as a metaphor. Where food is prioritised as commodity, commercial/industrial food practices promote death: death of the body through malnutrition or over-consumption; death of communities through the power of transnationals and commercial interests; death of the natural world through the prioritisation of these human food provision systems. Food-as-death is a trope which privileges the destructive aspect of food over others such as pleasure, identity and nurturing. Power is invested in those whose trope gains the greatest acceptance. The challenge for environmentalism is to demonstrate the validity of food-as-death. The essential task therefore, is to demonstrate that food for humans can be organised in a way which affirms the well being of humans, communities and nature. This trope will be food-as-life.

'A Slice of Life': Food Narratives and Menus from Mass-Observers in 1982 and 1945

Sarah Nettleton and Emma Uprichard
Sociological Research Online 16 (2) 5

Keywords: Mass Observation Archive; Food and Eating; Qualitative; Personal Food Narratives; Secondary Analysis; Longitudinal
Abstract: This paper reports on an analysis of hitherto unexamined documentary data on food held within the UK Mass Observation Archive (MOA). In particular it discusses responses to the 1982 Winter Directive which asked MOA correspondents about their experiences of food and eating, and the food diaries submitted by MOA panel members in 1945. What is striking about these data is the extent to which memories of food and eating are interwoven with recollections of the lifecourse; in particular social relations, family life, and work. It seems asking people about food generates insight into aspects of everyday life. In essence, memories of food provide a crucial and potentially overlooked medium for developing an appreciation of social change. We propose the concept 'food narratives' to capture the essence of these reflections because they reveal something more than personal stories; they are both individual and collective experiences in that personal food narratives draw upon shared cultural repertoires, generational memories, and tensions between age cohorts. Food narratives are embodied and embedded in social networks, socio-cultural contexts and socio-economic epochs. Thus the daily menus recorded in 1945 and memories scribed in 1982 do not simply communicate what people ate, liked and disliked but throw light on two contrasting moments of British history; the end of the second world war and an era of transition, reform, individualization, diversity which was taking place in the early 1980s.

Saints and Slackers: Challenging Discourses About the Decline of Domestic Cooking

Angela Meah and Matt Watson
Sociological Research Online 16 (2) 6.html

Keywords: Food, Family, Kitchen Practices, Cooking Skills, Deskilling, Inter-Generational Transfer, Life-Course Perspective
Abstract: Amidst growing concern about both nutrition and food safety, anxiety about a loss of everyday cooking skills is a common part of public discourse. Within both the media and academia, it is widely perceived that there has been an erosion of the skills held by previous generations with the development of convenience foods and kitchen technologies cited as culpable in 'deskilling' current and future generations. These discourses are paralleled in policy concerns, where the incidence of indigenous food-borne disease in the UK has led to the emergence of an understanding of consumer behaviour, within the food industry and among food scientists, based on assumptions about consumer 'ignorance' and poor food hygiene knowledge and cooking skills. These assumptions are accompanied by perceptions of a loss of `common-sense´ understandings about the spoilage and storage characteristics of food, supposedly characteristic of earlier generations. The complexity of cooking skills immediately invites closer attention to discourses of their assumed decline. This paper draws upon early findings from a current qualitative research project which focuses on patterns of continuity and change in families' domestic kitchen practices across three generations. Drawing mainly upon two family case studies, the data presented problematise assumptions that earlier generations were paragons of virtue in the context of both food hygiene and cooking. In taking a broader, life-course perspective, we highlight the absence of linearity in participants' engagement with cooking as they move between different transitional points throughout the life-course.

The Subject of Functional Foods: Accounts of Using Foods Containing Phytosterols

Kate Weiner
Sociological Research Online 16 (2) 7

Keywords: Functional Food; Ordinary Consumption; Phytosterol; Cholesterol; Consumer Subject; Agency; Reflexivity; Food Practices; Non-Instrumental Conduct
Abstract: This paper explores the notion of the late modern or reflexive subject, for whom consumption, rationality, autonomy and a reflexive attitude to risk are said to be constitutive. Drawing on an example of 'ordinary' health consumption (Gronow and Warde, 2001), the paper addresses what kinds of consumer identities emerge in people's talk about buying or eating foods containing phytosterols. These are 'functional foods' which are marketed on the basis that they actively lower cholesterol. Based on interviews with people who say that they buy or eat these foods, the analysis focuses on participants' reported trajectories relating to how this came about. Participants' accounts contain a number of explicit and implicit reasons for buying or eating the foods, which I characterise as agential, contextual, or non-agential, depending on the degree to which they draw on the agency of the actual purchaser or eater. These different types of explanations can be ordered in terms of their appeals to rationality, risk consciousness and autonomy. In agential explanations, people talk, for example, of doing something good for themselves, or experimenting with the foods. These explanations explicitly position consumers as health conscious, autonomous and rational to varying degrees. Contextual explanations drew on, for example, the role of doctors or family history in alerting people to a potential problem. These suggest both a different sense of risk consciousness, which may be prompted or contextual, and a less autonomous kind of consumer who is connected to others through a set of family and other relationships. Non-agential explanations, for example, where people attributed their consumption to others or to habit, appeal neither to the rationality, the health consciousness nor the autonomy of the actual consumer. The analysis helps to reinforce the potentially contextual or fluctuating nature of risk consciousness, and the relational and non-instrumental aspects of daily practices.

'If You're Not Allowed to Have Rice, What Do You Have with Your Curry?': Nostalgia and Tradition in Low-Carbohydrate Diet Discourse and Practice

Christine Knight
Sociological Research Online 16 (2) 8

Keywords: Food, Diet, Nutrition, Discourse, Nostalgia, Tradition, Cultural Identity, Obesity
Abstract: Low-carbohydrate diets, notably the Atkins Diet, were particularly popular in Britain and North America in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This paper approaches the low-carbohydrate trend as one response to the twin obesity and diabetes epidemics, drawing firstly on a discourse analysis of bestselling low-carbohydrate diet books, especially The South Beach Diet (Agatston 2003). I explore and critique nostalgia in the low-carbohydrate movement as a response to a perceived contemporary health crisis caused by modern Western food habits and lifestyle. The low-carbohydrate literature demonstrates a powerful discursive combination of nostalgia for pre-industrial Western foodways, and valorisation of 'authentic ethnic' (non-Western) culinary traditions. Together, these tropes construct a generalised notion of traditional diet which contrasts positively with a putative 'modern Western diet'. The binary opposition set up between modern Western food habits and a traditional ideal leads to generalisations and factual inaccuracies, as any diet or cuisine that is not modern, and/or not Western, must be adjusted discursively to fit the low-carbohydrate model. Further, in an interview study with low-carbohydrate dieters, dieters' descriptions of their experiences did not match the nostalgic rhetoric of popular low-carbohydrate manuals. Instead, I found that the requirement to eliminate staple carbohydrate foods severs dieters both practically and symbolically from culinary tradition, whether their own or that of an ethnic Other. I conclude that there is a disjuncture between the romantic 'nutritional nostalgia' (Beardsworth 2002) of the diet books, and dieters' own food practices.

Intimacy as a Concept: Explaining Social Change in the Context of Globalisation or Another Form of Ethnocentricism?

Lynn Jamieson
Sociological Research Online 16 (4) 15

Keywords: Love and Intimacy, Globalization, Ethnocentric, Social Change, Inequality, Discourse, Family Practices
Abstract: This article focuses on intimacy in terms of its analytical potential for understanding social change without the one-nation blinkers sometimes referred to as 'methodological nationalism' and without Euro-North-American ethnocentrism. Extending from the concept of family practices, practices of intimacy are sketched and examples considered across cultures. The cultural celebration and use of the term 'intimacy' is not universal, but practices of intimacy are present in all cultures. The relationship of intimacy to its conceptual relatives is clarified. A brief discussion of subjectivity and social integration restates the relevance of intimate relationships and practices of intimacy to understanding social change in an era of globalisation, despite the theoretical turn away from embodied face to face relationships. Illustrations concerning intimacy and social change in two areas of personal life, parental authority and gender relations, indicate that practices of intimacy can re-inscribe inequalities such as those of age, class and gender as well as subvert them and that attention to practices of intimacy can assist the need to explain continuity as well as change.

Using Spoken and Written Qualitative Methods to Explore Children's and Young People's Food and Eating Practices

Wendy J. Wills
Sociological Research Online 17 (3) 16

Keywords: Children; Young People; Food and Eating Practices; Spoken and Written Qualitative Methods; Narrative Inquiry
Abstract: Research examining children's and young people's food and eating practices has become more common place in recent years. Qualitative methods can be useful in such sense-making research, where an individual's narrative is likely to involve complexity, contradiction and ambiguity. Speaking and writing about food and eating can offer participants of all ages and most abilities the opportunity to delve into their own world of practice. Commonly used methods, like the individual interview and focus group, whilst suitable for studies of this kind, are not without their drawbacks. There are important ethical issues concerning children's privacy and their right not to reveal 'too much' to the researcher or their family. Innovative methods which deserve greater consideration include audio diaries, memory work/books, email interviews and interviews 'on the move'. All offer the researcher the opportunity to build rapport with and collect narratives about food and eating from children and young people.

Gender Relations Among Indian Couples in the UK and India: Ideals of Equality and Realities of Inequality

Katherine Twamley
Sociological Research Online 17 (4) 5

Keywords: Intimacy; Gender Relations; India; South Asians; Second Generation; Equality; Love
Abstract: This paper explores young heterosexual Indian Gujaratis' ideals and experiences of intimate relationships in the UK and India, focusing particularly on gender relations. Men and women in both contexts had similar aspirations of intimacy, but women were likely to be more in favour of egalitarian values. What this meant was interpreted differently in India and the UK. In neither setting, however, was gender equality fully realised in the lives of the participants due to both structural and normative constraints. Despite this gap between ideals and experiences, participants portrayed their relationships as broadly equal and conjugal. It appears that the heavy emphasis on love and intimacy is making it difficult for women to negotiate a more egalitarian relationship with their partner, since any 'flaw' in the relationship potentially brings into question its loving foundations. In this way, women tend to ignore or justify the gendered roles and inequalities apparent in their relationships and paint a picture of blissful marital equality despite evidence to the contrary.

When Charity Does Not Begin at Home: Exploring the British Socioemotional Economy of Compassion

Ruben Flores
Sociological Research Online 18 (1) 17

Keywords: Altruism, Class, Cosmopolitanism, Globalization, Inequality, Morality, Neoliberalism, Causal Mechanisms, Solidarity, Sympathy, Telescopic Philanthropy
Abstract: The British socioemotional economy is marked by a tension between cosmopolitan humanitarian sentiments and the denial of sympathy for geographically close, but socially distant, strangers in need. The essence of this tension can be captured by the Dickensian notion of 'telescopic philanthropy'. A proper understanding of this tension would benefit from examining both short-term and secular trends - proximate and distal causal mechanisms. The paper is not explanatory in nature, but aims to generate sensitizing concepts, while at the same time seeking to steer the altruism, morality, and social solidarity literature towards a more active engagement with history, power, and ideology.

Beyond Economic Interests: Attitudes Toward Foreign Workers in Australia, the United States and East Asian Countries

Ming-Chang Tsai and Rueyling Tzeng
Sociological Research Online 19 (3) 15

Keywords: Immigration, Globalization, Cultural Ideology, Global Exposure, Economic Interests, East Asia
Abstract: We compare attitudes toward foreign workers between two wealthy Western and four developing East Asian countries, using data from the 2006 and 2008 Asian Barometer surveys to test hypotheses on economic interests, cultural supremacy, and global exposure. Respondent majorities in all six countries expressed high levels of restrictivism. Regression model results indicate a consistent cultural superiority influence across the six countries, but only minor effects from economic interest factors. Mixed outcomes were noted for the global exposure variables.

The Hindu Rights Action Force and the Definition of the €Indian Community’ in Malaysia

Flavia Cangià
Sociological Research Online 19 (4) 3

Keywords: HINDRAF, Malaysian Indians, Ethnicity, Boundaries, Hindu, Minority Rights
Abstract: The Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF) started in 2006 as a coalition of non-governmental organizations and various individuals struggling for the preservation and protection of Hindus’ rights in Malaysia. Although the coalition began as a religious movement, it ended up widening the scope of its mandate so as to include various demands for social and economic rights. The present paper describes some representations of the ‘Indian community’ as these are expressed in HINDRAF’s discourses and in some supporters’ views on the condition of Malaysian Indians. In particular, the paper examines processes of ethnic boundary making and unmaking, more specifically how ethnic boundaries are both expanded and contracted on the basis of various socio-cultural and economic factors.

Using Narrative Sources from the Mass Observation Archive to Study Everyday Food and Families in Hard Times: Food Practices in England During 1950

Abigail Knight, Julia Brannen and Rebecca O'Connell
Sociological Research Online 20 (1) 9

Keywords: Food Practices, Families, Diaries, Mass Observation, Narrative
Abstract: By using examples from food and domestic life in England during 1950, this paper examines the use of narrative archival sources as a methodological alternative to researching everyday food practices by traditional research methods, such as interviewing. Through the analysis of three diaries written for the Mass Observation Archive, and the everyday food practices expressed in these diaries, we consider the benefits and challenges of using narrative archival diary data to gain insights into food and eating during times of austerity. Before presenting and discussing the cases, we outline some of the challenges of researching food practices as a result of the muted, moral and mundane aspects of such practices. We then describe the study on which this paper is based, including a discussion of our methods and the reasons for using diaries and selecting our cases. Following this, we set the scene for understanding food and eating in 1950s Britain, such as contextual background about rationing during the Second World War, government policy and propaganda of the time. In our analysis of the three diaries, we discuss some of the ways in which the data have enabled us to ‘get at’ and provide insights into habitual food practices.

Enduring or Crossing Distance for Love? Negotiating Love and Distance in the Lives of Mixed Transnational Couples

Rebecca Chiyoko King-O'Riain
Sociological Research Online 21 (1) 12

Keywords: Transnationalism, Emotion, Distance, Love, Globalization
Abstract: Within the field of transnationalism and globalization, studies have tended to focus on the flow of people, ideas and goods (Giddens 2003, Beck 2011, Fitzgerald 2008). Within the field of migration this has meant importantly an increasing focus on studies of gender, migration and emotion (Brooks and Simpson 2013; Svasek and Skrbis 2007, Baldassar 2008). However, these studies tend to focus on the context of migration and how that shapes decisions around migration and belonging without focusing on the effect of migration on emotions themselves. Through ethnographic narrative interviews with 36 mixed transnational couples, this article analyses how the emotion of love is understood and practiced within some ‘global families’ (Beck and Beck-Gernsheim 2014). The article finds that for the mixed intercultural couples interviewed here, distance played a role in defining and confirming love (love at a distance) and was often seen as a reason to migrate or move (crossing distance for love) as a test or proof that love was real. These different cultural meanings of love show how distance could increasingly play a role in how we define and practice love today.