Food in transition: university students' discourse about food practices

Lin, Yin-Ling (2010) Food in transition: university students' discourse about food practices. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Little is known about the food practices of UK university students. 'Student food' often carries a negative connotation of being 'improper' or 'unhealthy'. This thesis investigates the accounts of food practices offered by undergraduate students at the University of Nottingham.

This thesis introduced Goffman's ideas of self-presentation of everyday life to examine the main theoretical approaches in the study of food and eating. Students' discourse about food practices at three stages was examined: food practices at home, in university accommodations, and in private accommodations. This thesis shows students' self-presentation through their discourse about the transitions in food practices in these three living situations. The focus in students' discourse shifts gradually from constructing institutional images to personal images, as students acquired more autonomy in food practices. When talking about the period before university, students' self presentation emphasised 'institutional images' or 'family images'. When they talked about food practices after entering university, their 'personal images' gradually became more prominent.

This thesis also provides an account of students' discourse about Science, technology and food, using a case study of Genetically Modified (GM) food. Students' discourse about GM food was associated with their self presentation as Natural Science or Humanities and Social Science (HSS) students. This thesis concludes that students' discourse about food has shown that their self- presentation was often constructed according to what they expected their audience to consider as appropriate for university students in UK society. The university period was portrayed as a transition in developing their personal images as they learned to present themselves as responsible independent beings in the society and located themselves within particular communities of knowledge.

This thesis suggests that university students' food practices are shaped by various factors. The assumption that students do not care about their food and eating should be challenged. Furthermore, this thesis also demonstrates the way in which people talk about GM food. This is to show that, in order to understand people's views about GM food, it is important to take their self- presentation into account when interpreting their responses.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Dingwall, R.W.J.
Murcott, A.
Keywords: undergraduates, university students, food, diet
Subjects: T Technology > TX Home economics
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Sociology and Social Policy
Item ID: 35917
Depositing User: Hatton, Mrs Kirsty
Date Deposited: 19 Aug 2016 13:42
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2016 16:11

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