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.
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.
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.