Introducing the idea of ‘assumed shared food narratives’ in the context of social networks: reflections from a qualitative study conducted in Nottingham, England

Paul Bissell, Marian Peacock, Michelle Holdsworth, Katie Powell, John Wilcox, Angie Clonan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1142-1155
Number of pages14
JournalSociology of Health and Illness
Volume40
Issue number7
Early online date19 Jun 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018

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