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Nutritional health, subjectivity and resistance: women's accounts of dietary practices.

Authors
  • Madden, Helen
  • Chamberlain, Kerry
Type
Published Article
Journal
Health (London, England : 1997)
Publication Date
May 01, 2010
Volume
14
Issue
3
Pages
292–309
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1177/1363459309356073
PMID: 20427635
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Food is related to health, both directly and symbolically, in complex ways. Also, social practices around food are highly gendered, and, in the context of family life, fall largely to mothers. This study examines mothers' talk about nutritional health, and food, health and dietary practices in the context of everyday life, using a discursive analysis of the talk from focus group discussions. Findings show that discourses surrounding nutritional health offer women a variety of conflictual subjectivities. If they do not engage in 'correct' dietary practices, women are positioned as immoral, both as individuals and as mothers. Further, their ability to determine which foods are 'healthy' or 'unhealthy' is undermined through a distrust of 'facts' and scientific evidence, and they are rendered susceptible to exploitation through claims made for food as health promoting. Together, these areas of conflict perpetuate subjectivities of anxiety around dietary practices.The women seek to re-position themselves and overcome these contradictions by offering a variety of legitimations for their dietary practices. In doing so, they resist nutritional health messages and reveal how such messages can have unintended effects.

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