Chapter 2 outlines key academic debates surrounding class, identity, consumption and food. Engaging with Bourdieu’s toolkit of habitus, capital, field and practice, it explores middle-class social positioning. It connects contemporary class analysis to everyday eating by engaging with ideas of the cultural omnivore alongside work pertaining to postmodern ideas of consumption. The chapter then uses these ideas in conversation with the concept of domestication and scholarly activity which focuses on the materialities of food consumption to get a closer understanding of the temporally and spatially situated doing of food in the home. To this end, the importance of gender comes to the fore, specifically, the relationship between classed femininity and the temporality of practices and their associated constraints and priorities. Combined, these conceptual underpinnings provide the foundations from which to explore the empirical stories which unfold in the subsequent chapters.
Chapter 6 gathers together the key themes of this book to offer concluding remarks pertaining to the ways middle-classness is reproduced and communicated through everyday domestic food practices. Based on these themes, the chapter presents a discussion about the broader implications of taste, middle-class identities and domestic food provisioning in contemporary Britain. It suggests that the small-scale domestic interactions presented in this book have implications for a broader understanding of the relational ways that class provides access to particular ways of eating and legitimizes eaters who participate in very specific ways of valuing ‘good’ food.
Chapter 5 explores how knowledge about food is embodied and reproduced. It begins by taking public health messaging as an example to explore how ideas of self-control operate as ‘common-sense’ knowledge. Mapping participant journeys from the past to the present, it highlights the centrality of feminized learning about practices of food provisioning, which is supplemented with accrued culinary capital (such as cookbooks). Together, this appears to produce a strategic disposition to critically select from the diverse foodscape to enact a very particular and culturally shared version of good taste. The chapter then focuses on the household meal, as the end moment of the domestic sharing of ‘good’ food, to consider how these frames come together. It especially focuses on feeding children to examine how these learnt and accrued knowledges about food unfold across the generations and shows how encouraging a disposition to make discerning choices clearly emerges as valued.
Political and public stories about class and food rarely scrutinize how socio-economic and cultural resources enable access to certain foods.
Tracing the symbolic links between everyday eating at home and broader social frameworks, this book examines how classed relations play out in middle-class homes to show why class is relevant to all understandings of food in Great Britain.
The author illuminates how ‘good’ food, and the identities configured through its consumption, is associated with middle-class lifestyles and why this relationship is often unquestioned and thus saliently normalised.
Considering food consumption in a wider social context, the book offers an alternative understanding of class relations, which extends academic, political and public debates about privilege.
Chapter 4 focuses on practice, in particular the material and symbolic ways in which participants chose and restricted the food which crosses the domestic threshold. The chapter starts in one participant’s kitchen, then looks further afield to trace the complex processes by which food becomes domesticated. Looking towards the consumer marketplace, the chapter considers how participants navigate across shopping spaces to select food. In this framing, processed convenience foods clearly emerged as lacking value. Yet data generated from ‘hanging out’ in kitchens shows that there were convenience foods in all kitchens and that the dichotomous relationship between convenience and homemade is continuously reworked and contested. Furthermore, accounting for practices highlights the centrality of gender. Female participants were clearly responsible for the day-to-day doings of domestic food, integral to which is the synchronization of multiple time-space paths. The chapter concludes by reading their justifications about using convenience in relation to broader food narratives in which classed notions of femininity circulate.
The introductory chapter offers an overview of the contemporary British foodscape to provide a starting point from which to contemplate the classed locatedness of food. The chapter sets out the aims of the book and in particular its rationale of focusing on the middle classes. The remainder of the chapter details the range of ethnographically inspired qualitative methods utilized in conducting this research. The chapter concludes with a detailed overview of the remaining chapters.
Working with individual food biographies, Chapter 3 offers a socio-historical framing of participants’ self-understandings through food. It starts by considering the extent to which participants construct their identity as classed (or not) before juxtaposing these identity performances with participants’ food dispositions. Narratives of not belonging emerge powerfully. Participants appeared to distance themselves from being a monolithic product of their upbringings or collective class categories, offering instead a fragmented and reflexive account of their individuality and an orientation towards taste expansion and diversification. While this was recurrently conceptualized in relation to the increased production of variety offered by the global marketplace, participants’ openness to diversity appeared highly selective. Furthermore, the imagined figure of a working-class mass consumer emerges in these accounts as a point from which to enact differentiation.
This chapter examines strategies for addressing power imbalances, bias and disempowerment in the research process from the perspective of both care-experienced and non-care-experienced researchers. Also, this chapter reflects on practical advice for those engaging with care-experienced people in research and doing so can create more authentic, empowering and meaningful experiences for care-experienced participants in ways that reduce fear of shame, stigma, tokenism and re-traumatisation.
Street-involved children are recognised as a social concern worldwide. In South Africa, there are an estimated 250,000 street-involved children, living mostly in the larger centres of the country. Street-involved children’s lives are characterised by hardship and stigmatisation; they live on the very edges of society. However, street-involved children demonstrate considerable resilience in their daily lives as they navigate and negotiate their way to accessing resources necessary for their daily lives and future goals. This study entailed qualitative interviews with nine young adults who had lived on the streets prior to coming into care, and then been taken up into the residential care of a children’s home and had since aged out of care. The study examined the accounts of the resilience of these nine care-leavers while living on the streets. The findings show that, while on the streets, participants demonstrated resilience in building family-like connections, networking people for resources and reflecting on their learning through life experiences. The authors argue that recognising and celebrating these resilience factors when working with former street-involved children in care will enable them to incorporate these resilience processes into a repertoire of resilience enablers for life.
This book has aimed to conduct research about edgy facets of leaving care – understudied groups of care-leavers, and fresh methodological approaches and innovative theories. In this concluding chapter, we draw together key findings regarding these three facets, highlighting what has been learned collectively through this project. The research has been conducted and chapters written by authors from all over the world who are, mostly, on the edge, transitioning between postgraduate student and scholar. Spring-boarding from their new insights, the chapter attempts to imagine what leaving-care research will look like in the future and where the new edges might be. It will draw attention to the many gaps and edges that remain and suggest possibilities for ongoing research that pushes the boundaries yet further forward.