Negotiating Bodies at the Borderlands of Eating Communities : An Ethnographic Study of Oat Milk Consumers’ Relations to Health, Identity and Social Life
Sammanfattning: This thesis conducts a cultural analysis of the social implications of food allergies and intolerances and analyzes the interaction of individual experience and social structures by asking what it means when one chooses not to follow the normative food culture, such as with vegetarian and vegan diets, or when one physically cannot, such as in the case of food allergies and intolerances, specifically Celiac. By focusing on lifestyle and dietary eaters, that is, consumers adhering to ʻalternativeʼ diets, such as veganism or vegetarianism, and individuals diagnosed with (or affected by) food allergies and intolerance, this research analyzes how (non)participation in the mainstream eating community is both a challenge and source of how people removed from the eating community understand themselves via social interaction. With theoretical structuring from Pasi Falkʼs eating communities, Bryan Turnerʼs phenomenology of sickness, Erving Goffmanʼs rules of conduct, and Pierre Bourdieuʼs taste, distinction, and habitus, and using my insights from work with the Swedish non-dairy food manufacturer Oatly as a case study, I address what happens when one is suddenly outside the mainstream eating community. In order to address the tensions between eating communities, which grew from an analysis of participant responses, I analyze the following insights: How does the separation affect oneʼs relationship to food, to oneʼs self, and to society and what does it mean for (re)establishing community? How are people deliberately using food as distinction to distance themselves from the food culture, while others actively employ camouflage strategies? What, how, and by whom is disease legitimized? From these questions I have identified several analytical themes, including: 1. the problems raised from the interaction of competing versions of food culture, 2. the construction of an individual and community self via consumption, 3. conflicting definitions of ʻfoodʼ and what is edible, 4. food as the manifestation of the border between eating communities, and 5. visibility and the loss of control.
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