This study explores the ways in which social networks might shape accounts about food practices. Drawing on insights from the work of Christakis and Fowler (2007) whose claims about the linkages between obesity and social networks have been the subject of vigorous debate in the sociological literature, we present qualitative data from a study of women's’ accounts of social networks and food practices, conducted in Nottingham, England. We tentatively suggest that whilst social networks, in their broadest sense, might shape what was perceived to be normal and acceptable in relation to food practices (and provide everyday discursive resources which normalise practice), the relationship between the two is more complex than the linear relationship proposed by Christakis and Fowler. Here, we introduce the idea of assumed shared food narratives (ASFNs), which, we propose, sheds light on motive talk about food practices, and which also provide practical and discursive resources to actors seeking to protect and defend against ‘untoward’ behaviour, in the context of public health messages around food and eating. We suggest that understanding ASFNs and the ways in which they are embedded in social networks represents a novel way of understanding food and eating practices from a sociological perspective.
Bissell, P., Peacock, M., Holdsworth, M., Powell, K., Wilcox, J., & Clonan, A. (2018). Introducing the idea of ‘assumed shared food narratives’ in the context of social networks: reflections from a qualitative study conducted in Nottingham, England. Sociology of Health and Illness, 40(7), 1142-1155. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9566.12746