In a Poetics article co-authored with Tyler Bateman and Shyon Baumann, we investigate how meat is covered in public discourse. We use topic modelling to map the discourse as it appears in news media and on blogs. We find that meat is a commodity with a highly ambiguous status. On the one hand, it is connected to environmental risks, health risks, and business risks. On the other hand, meat has a benign, taken-for-granted quality that makes these risks disappear from public view. When we compare how newspapers and blogs discuss meat, we find that blogs tend to give more emphasis to meat’s risks.
Why do people continue to eat meat, even when they are aware of its health consequences, the environmental externalities, and the harsh conditions in many confined animal feeding operations?
In this article in Sociological Forum, we examine a diverse sample of Canadian meat eaters and vegetarians to study justifications for eating meat. We identify 4 key cultural repertoires that people employ to make sense of their continued meat-eating: embodied masculinity, cultural preservation, consumer apathy, and consumer sovereignty. Building off prior psychological findings, the identification of these cultural repertoires allows us to understand more fully how and why people maintain their meat consumption—even in the face of growing public discourse about meat’s significant health, environmental, and social risks.
Building on the insights from our new article in Social Forces, Emily Huddart Kennedy, Shyon Baumann and I blogged this week for the ASA Section on Consumers & Consumption. We discuss some of our findings on social status and ethical food consumption, the idea of “Cultural Capital 2.0,” and a visit to a farm-to-table restaurant in Victoria.
Check it out here!
Dr. Sarah Cappeliez and her mother at last month’s UofT graduation ceremony.
Congrats to Dr. Sarah Cappeliez, who graduated from UofT last month! I had the immense pleasure of supervising Sarah’s dissertation, entitled “More than just a Fine Drink: Processes of Cultural Translation, Taste Formation and Idealized Consumption in the Wine World.” Her research investigates winemaking practices and wine culture that are driven by the concept of “terroir,” which describes the unique taste arising from a combination of biophysical elements and agrarian practices in a particular place. Drawing on fieldwork in French and Canadian regional contexts, she examines the cultural sociology of how ideas, tastes and consumption practices travel and are adopted in new locations.
While we miss her brilliant intellect and down-to-earth warmth at UofT, we’re delighted that Sarah recently began a position as an Assistant Professor at Concordia University in Montréal. She is currently teaching classes in media and culture, including an introductory course on Sociology Through Film.
Check out part of Sarah’s terroir research in this excellent recent Poetics article.
As part of a special issue in Canadian Food Studies, Anelyse Weiler, one of the PhD candidates I supervise, has published a policy commentary on five ways Canada’s forthcoming National Food Policy can advance equity and dignity with migrant farm workers. She argues that to realize a healthy food system for all members of our communities, the national food policy cannot be for Canadians alone. Her piece concludes by underscoring dynamics between farm labour migration and climate change.
To build on the insights from this policy commentary and her dissertation fieldwork, Anelyse will be co-organizing a workshop with injured migrant farm workers, grassroots organizers and a farmer at Food Secure Canada’s 10th Annual Assembly in Montreal.
I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to carefully read Richard Ocejo’s super interesting book, Masters of Craft: Old Jobs in the New Urban Economy, for an Author-meets-critic session last Spring at the Eastern Sociology meetings. Ocejo’s book does an excellent job thinking through the labour underpinnings of urban hipster/foodie culture. It’s also an excellent example of how good sociology can creatively make connections between seemingly disparate phenomena — like butchers, cocktails, craft whiskey, and barbershops.
I wrote up a book review for Food, Culture and Society, which is now out and available here:
An article I co-wrote with Kate Cairns on the topic of “meat and mothering” has been published by Agriculture and Human Values. Vol 35: 569-580. It can be downloaded here: http://www.springer.com/home?SGWID=0-0-1003-0-0&aqId=3451768&download=1&checkval=5899818bb273e12fee5729813ec2bc4b
In the article, we question the idea that “more consumer knowledge” will necessarily lead to altered, and more ethical food practices. Mothers are put in a difficult position in relation to children’s’ meat consumption: they feel pressure to teach kids where food comes from, but they also want to protect children from some of the harsh truths of animal slaughter.