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.
I am happy to report that an article I have worked on with Emily Huddart Kennedy and John Parkins is now out in print in British Journal of Sociology.
The article is called “Small-p politics: how pleasurable, convivial and pragmatic political ideals influence engagement in eat-local initiatives”.
In the realm of local food, it’s often important to emphasize how food can be pleasurable and convivial. This is a pragmatic strategy for many reasons, and forces scholars to think carefully about what we mean by “politics”. Interviewing and observing food actors located in civil, state and market spheres in three Canadian cities, we describe a set of commonly articulated political ideals that inform and shape an engagement approach that we call “small-p politics”. We analyze why small-p politics is such an attractive option for food movement actors, but caution that narrowing the scope of tools and topics available for civic participation may compromise the ability for collective action to tackle barriers to justice and sustainability.
Warm congratulations to Tyler Bateman, a PhD student I supervise, for receiving a 2017 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Fellowship. Tyler joins seven other students in the Department of Sociology at UofT who were awarded SSHRC fellowships this year.
Here is Tyler’s description of his exciting project, entitled Who cares about nature? The environmental sociology of perception.
With increasing urbanization, urban parks may play an important role in the ability of urban dwellers to develop an affective appreciation of wild organisms and their natural habitats. This research investigates the social processes that support and derive from the awe-inspiring discovery of animals, plants, and other organisms in urban parks. The thrill of discovering wild nature may be an important root of public discussions about conserving nature.