Introducing October’s theme: Food

This month’s digital theme is Food. During the last six months, food has been – depending on your experience of the pandemic – another thing to worry about sourcing and buying; a great comfort; something we’ve missed sharing with each other; a hobby; a job; a break; a duty… There’s been “right” foods and “wrong” foods; there’s been lavish displays of home baking on Instagram; there’s been unprecedented demand on food banks; there’s been stockpiling, and food parcels delivered by mutual aiders. We’ve been told to Eat Out to Help Out while many of us wondered about the cost of such Government initiatives. Food – eating, growing, buying, selling, branding, cooking, and sharing it – is a topic rich with sociological questions, and we’re delighted by the menu (sorry; we couldn’t help it!) on offer across our digital platforms this month.

We are thrilled to be publishing blog posts by academics around the world, from Virgie Tovar, who writes with characteristic clarity on food justice and fat activism, to Jean-Pierre Poulain, author of The Sociology of Food: Eating and the Place of Food in Society, reflecting on this seminal work three years on. Sharon Noonan examines the pressures placed on mothers of higher weight children, while Julio Angel Alicea shares ethnographic insights into food, fugitivity, and futurity in the flatlands of Los Angeles. Leigh Lawrence has collaborated with an illustrator to explore the Mooncake Factory as a metaphor for their ongoing research into Chinese education reform. Smriti Singh explores the bonds created and sustained by sharing food and recipes in her immediate family. Kiah Smith and Zoe Staines interrogate the relationships between work, sovereignty and food in remote parts of Australia. Sinikka Elliott explores food provision in the context of intersecting in equalities, Susan Marie Martin writes on the regulation of woman street traders, and the impact of this on those buying food in the economic margins. Rahul Ganguly looks at the textures of food, reminding us of our September digital theme of ‘Texture.’ Finally Alessandro Gerosa writes on taste dealers in the food economy and Katie

Our Instagram Residency this month is taken on by Verdine Etoria. Verdine’s research concern is the labour of food establishments, and the cultural positioning of these workers. Though his PhD research he encountered informal networks amongst restaurant workers which can facilitate both solidarity and competition. In his residency, Verdine will be taking us to the restaurants and eateries of Leeds, drawing attention to minority and underrepresented groups and business away from the town centre and affluent suburbs. Follow us on thesociologicalreview for all the images, and look out for the blog introducing the residency further.

Each month we make a series of papers from The Sociological Review’s archive which relate to our digital theme free to access. This month we have selected four from across the last three decades. Firstly, Nickie Charles and Marion Kerr’s 1986 article ‘Food for Feminist Thought’ considers women’s relationship to food, particularly in relationship to the body and body-image. In 1994, Deborah Lupton wrote in The Sociological Review about her qualitative research into childhood memories of food and their relationship to eating habits. Marlene Morrison’s 1996 paper looked at eating together and sharing food in school contexts. The final selection comes from Catrin Smith, who in 2002 wrote about how food factors into the experiences of the incarcerated

Finally, to complete the content for this month in a musical way, we invited sociology colleagues to to share a recipe with us that links to the work they’re currently researching. We will be bringing you a Monsoon Chicken Supreme from Claire Alexander, leftover beer-battered vegetables from Tracey Skillington, as well as another delicacy from Malika Booker.

With this collection, we have only hoped to offer a sample menu of the rich world of the sociology of food. Whether practices of making, marketing or consuming food, it is a lively field that we hope our collection gives some insight into. Lockdown has made chefs and bakers of many of us, and indeed for a while #AcademicTwitter was full of cooking successes (and some failures). At an event we hosted earlier in the year, many participants jokingly lamented the lack of dry biscuits and bad coffee to share with colleagues over a catch up. While this may be a while off still, we hope that you will join in our conversations on social media this month about all things food. Bon appetite (sorry!).

– The Digital Team

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