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School of Business | Department of Marketing | Marketing | 2012
Thesis number: 12989
Food, family and women: Constructing identity through food-related discourses
Author: Pärssinen, Noora
Title: Food, family and women: Constructing identity through food-related discourses
Year: 2012  Language: eng
Department: Department of Marketing
Academic subject: Marketing
Index terms: markkinointi; marketing; kuluttajakäyttäytyminen; consumer behaviour; kuluttajat; consumers; verkostot; networks; keskustelu; discussion; viestintä; communication; identiteetti; identity; ruoka; food; perhe; families; naiset; women
Pages: 74
Full text:
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Key terms: food; family; women; identity; convenience food; discourse
This work focuses on the discursive practices that mothers employ when talking about different eating practices, themselves and family. Particular interest lies in the discourses regarding convenience foods. This research explores how mothers present convenience foods and draw from food-related discourses so as to construct and express a viable sense of personal and family identity. The linkage between the findings and the broader socio-cultural environment is discussed also.

The literature review represents some findings of previous research regarding identity construction, family identity, and relation between food, family and women. Additionally, the literature section covers the interplay between food and identity as well as findings concerning homemade meals and convenience food. To extend the knowledge regarding the multifaceted interplay between food (particularly convenience food), family, women and identity, a qualitative research was carried out by interviewing eight Finnish mothers on their family’s eating practices.

Based on the analysis and interpretation of the data, three identity constructions that illustrate the main findings were formed. The identity formation of the family “equal individuals looking for time together” describe how women seem to strive for representing their families as collectivities in which gender equality prevails and traditional gender roles are forgotten. Also, it appears that food is used as a means to get the family to gather together. In fact, it seems that, in general, dinner time could be characterized as “family time” as opposed to “mealtime”.

Mother’s identity construction “informed caretaker, not an imaginative chef” refers to the representation of a knowledgeable and caring mother, who strives for serving “proper” foods to her children. The findings suggest that, nowadays, instead of the concrete work that goes into preparing a meal from scratch, mothers partly convey care, love and nurture through fairly excessive mental work (e.g. pondering about what kind of nourishment children need to stay healthy). So, women seem to craft an identity of a caring and nurturing mother partly by expressing engagement in different forms of mental work. The identity construction for convenience food “unwanted products, which are regularly present” demonstrates the negative tone in which the products were discussed. It appears that women feel they need to at least show reprehension towards the regular use of convenience foods in order to come across as a good, caring and well-informed mother.
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