School food and the pedagogies of parenting

Jo Pike, Deana Leahy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Over the past decade the issue of food and in particular, food consumed within schools has come to encapsulate a broad range of concerns regarding children and young people's health and wellbeing. In Australia, the UK and more recently the USA, attempts to ameliorate a range of public health concerns have provided the impetus for an unprecedented proliferation of school food initiatives and legislative reforms governing the types of foods that may or may not be provided within schools. While academic enquiry in this area has largely focussed upon attempts to govern children, recent initiatives in the UK and Australia have begun to target parents in their attempts to promote healthy food practices. In this paper we interrogate the ways in which parents, or more specifically, mothers are positioned in relation to school food discourses in Australia and in the UK and suggest that school food has become a site through which an array of pedagogical opportunities are opened up to invoke particular subject positions premised on normative views of affective middle class motherhood. In short, we seek to explore the means through which mothers come to be regarded as legitimate targets of school food pedagogy. The paper draws on empirical data from Australia and the UK to compare a range of pedagogic techniques employed in the two countries. Drawing on governmentality studies we explore how school food pedagogies seek to regulate mothers and their children's food related choices. We consider school lunches and the various techniques that have been deployed in both countries to consider the moralising work that takes place around food and motherhood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434-459
Number of pages26
JournalAustralian Journal of Adult Learning
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


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