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  • 1.
    Bohm, Ingela
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Food and Nutrition.
    "We're made of meat, so why should we eat vegetables?": food discourses in the school subject home and consumer studies2016Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Background: Food has many different functions. On a physical level, it is needed to survive and to maintain health, but it also has many social, psychological, and emotional meanings. For example, food is used to build relationships, to mark hierarchies, to celebrate holidays, and to influence mood and self-image. Different foods have different cultural meanings, and people are socialized from an early age to recognize and utilize their symbolic value.

    One arena where food occupies a central position is the Swedish school subject Home and Consumer Studies (HCS), which focuses on both the physical and the psychosocial dimensions of food-related health. Since these dimensions are not always compatible, the aim of this dissertation was to explore how students and teachers of HCS use big 'D' Discourses to talk about and handle food, with a special focus on vegetables, meat, vegetarian food, and sweet foods.

    Methods: Fifty-nine students and five teachers were observed, recorded, and in some cases video-taped. Participants’ talk about vegetables, meat, vegetarian food, and sweet foods was transcribed verbatim and analysed for big 'D' Discourses.

    Results: Students mostly based their choice of vegetables on sensory and cultural Discourses. Some vegetables were mandatory and others were optional, depending on whether or not they were part of a recipe or a cultural tradition. The health Discourse was only used if a specific assignment demanded it, and was closely tied to the evaluation Discourse.

    Contrary to the sometimes optional status of vegetables, meat was seen as central in the sensory, cultural, health, and social Discourses. Therefore the reduction of meat could be problematic. It was regarded as simultaneously healthy and unhealthy, and it could elicit disgust, but whenever participants talked about decreasing meat consumption, its centrality was invoked as a counterargument.

    As an extension of this, vegetarian food was seen as 'empty', deviant, and an unattainable ideal. Access to vegetarian food was limited for meat-eaters, and vegetarians were othered in both positive and negative ways. When vegetarian food was cooked during lessons, it was constructed as something out of the ordinary.

    Sweet foods could be viewed as a treasure, as something dangerous and disgusting, or as an unnecessary extra. Home-made varieties were seen as superior. Sweet foods gave social status to both students and teachers, and they could be traded or given away to mark relationships and hierarchies, but also withheld and used to police others.

    Conclusion: In summary, two powerful potential opposites met in the HCS classroom: the Discourses of normality (sensory, cultural, and social Discourses), and the Discourses of responsibility (health and evaluation). Normality could make physically healthy food choices difficult because of participants' social identity, the conflicted health Discourse, and too-strict ideals. On the other hand, some people were excluded from normality itself, notably vegetarians, who were seen as deviant eaters, and teachers, who had to balance state-regulated goals in HCS against local norms.

    To counteract such problems, teachers can 1) focus on sensory experiences, experimental cooking methods, and already popular foods, 2) challenge normality by the way they speak about and handle different types of food, 3) make cooking and eating more communal and socially inclusive, 4) explore the psychosocial dimension of health on the same level as the physical dimension, and 5) make sure they do not grade students' cultural backgrounds, social identities, or taste preferences. This might go some way towards empowering students to make informed choices about food and health. However, scant resources of things like time, money, and equipment limit what can be achieved in the subject.

  • 2.
    Bohm, Ingela
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Food and Nutrition.
    Lindblom, Cecilia
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Food and Nutrition.
    Åbacka, Gun
    Bengs, Carita
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
    Hörnell, Agneta
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Food and Nutrition.
    Absence, deviance and unattainable ideals: Discourses on vegetarianism in the Swedish school subject Home and Consumer Studies2016In: Health Education Journal, ISSN 0017-8969, E-ISSN 1748-8176, Vol. 75, no 6, p. 676-688Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Objective: This study aimed to describe Discourses on vegetarian food in the Swedish school subject Home and Consumer Studies. Design: The study involved the observation of naturally occurring classroom talk, with audio recording and in some cases video-taping. Setting: The study was conducted during Home and Consumer Studies lessons in five different northern Swedish schools. Method: Fifty-nine students and five teachers were observed, recorded and in some cases video-taped. The resulting data were analysed with a focus on big 'D' Discourses. Results: Results indicated that gendered Discourses of absence, deviance and unattainability restricted some students' access to vegetarian food. The absence of meat was constructed as simultaneously healthy and unhealthy, a lack of cultural familiarity with vegetarian cooking made finding recipes difficult and students perceived the loss of taste as very negative. The vegetarian was seen as deviant, with vegetarianism being conceptually equated with sickness. Access to meat-free food required a commitment to a vegetarian lifestyle, and this was seen as a sacrifice and as too much work, not only for the individual but also for others. Conclusion: To counteract the restricted access to vegetarian food, Home and Consumer Studies teachers can redesign activities in the subject with the help of critical food literacy. For example, cooking could focus on popular plant-based dishes instead of 'empty' vegetarian themes, all students could be allowed to share vegetarian dishes instead of reserving them for vegetarians, the possibly strict rules of vegetarianism could be relaxed for those who do not wish to commit to them and vegetarian food could be deliberately connected to strength and masculinity. However, this presupposes sufficient economic resources and ample food storage space.

  • 3.
    Bohm, Ingela
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Food and Nutrition.
    Lindblom, Cecilia
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Food and Nutrition.
    Åbacka, Gun
    Vasa Faculty of Education, Åbo Akademi University, Vasa, Finland.
    Bengs, Carita
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
    Hörnell, Agneta
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Food and Nutrition.
    "He just has to like ham": the centrality of meat in home and consumer studies2015In: Appetite, ISSN 0195-6663, E-ISSN 1095-8304, Vol. 95, p. 101-112Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This study aimed to describe Discourses on meat in the school subject Home and Consumer Studies in five different northern Swedish schools. Fifty-nine students and five teachers from five different schools were recorded and in some cases video-taped during lessons. Results indicate that meat was seen as central to nutritional health, sensory experience, culture and social relationships. This positive view was challenged by an alternative Discourse where meat was threatening to health, sensory experience and psychological comfort, but this was not strong enough to affect centrality. Even when participants sought to promote the health advantages of reducing meat consumption, the dominant centrality Discourse was strengthened. This implies that the possible tension between physical and psychosocial/emotional health can make the benefits of a reduction difficult both to convey and accept. A form of critical food literacy may help teachers deconstruct the arbitrary power of the centrality Discourse, but it may also strengthen meat-eater identities because the social norms that guide food choice become salient. A redesign of Discourses might facilitate a reduction in meat consumption, but such a paradigm shift is dependent on the development of society as a whole, and can only be briefly touched upon within the limited timeframes and resources of Home and Consumer Studies.

  • 4.
    Bohm, Ingela
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Food and Nutrition.
    Lindblom, Cecilia
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Food and Nutrition.
    Åbacka, Gun
    Hörnell, Agneta
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Food and Nutrition.
    'Don't give us an assignment where we have to use spinach!': food choice and discourse in home and consumer studies2016In: International Journal of Consumer Studies, ISSN 1470-6423, E-ISSN 1470-6431, Vol. 40, no 1, p. 57-65Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The aim of the study was to describe classroom Discourses about vegetables during the planning, cooking, eating and evaluation of meals in the Swedish school subject Home and Consumer Studies. Fifty-nine students and five teachers were recruited from five northern Swedish villages and towns, and then observed, recorded and in some cases video-taped during lessons that took place between 2010 and 2012. Based on 56 instances of talk about vegetables, four Discourses were identified and related to the three aspects of Belasco's culinary triangle of contradictions: identity, responsibility and convenience. The results indicated that the identity-based sensory and cultural Discourses sometimes clashed with the more responsibility-oriented health and evaluation Discourses. The health Discourse was only used when there was an element of evaluation, with assignments connected to grades. In all other cases, the sensory and cultural Discourses guided vegetable use. Sometimes different sensory or cultural assumptions could clash with each other, for example when the teacher insisted on the use of a specific recipe regardless of a student's taste preferences. Since these preferences did not always harmonize with curricular demands for responsibility, there might be a risk of basing grades on aspects of students' identity. Alternatively, students might feel constrained to argue against their own identity in order to be favourably evaluated. Then again, if teachers always bow to student tastes, this limits their chances of learning about food and physical health. Viewing the dilemma through the lens of the culinary triangle of contradictions may help teachers and researchers develop teaching methods that take all aspects of food choice into account.

  • 5.
    Lindblom, Cecilia
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Food and Nutrition.
    Erixon Arreman, Inger
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of applied educational science.
    Bohm, Ingela
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Food and Nutrition.
    Hörnell, Agneta
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Food and Nutrition.
    Group work interaction among pupils In Home and Consumer Studies in Sweden2016In: International Journal of Home Economics, ISSN 1999-561X, E-ISSN 1999-561X, Vol. 9, no 1, p. 35-53Article in journal (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The aim of the study was to describe and analyze different types of group work during Home and Consumer Studies lessons in four Swedish schools, located in two different municipalities. Observations of pupils' practical tasks were carried out in six classrooms, and video/sound recorded. Study participants totaled 44 pupils (11 – 16 years old). Qualitative content analysis of the observations showed four different types of group work; 1) integrated, 2) expert (appointed by the kitchen partner/s and self-appointed), 3) divided, and 4) parallel. The most important finding was that pupils belonging to a self-appointed expert group, a divided group or a parallel group did not have the best conditions for learning. The integrated type appeared more conducive to individual learning than the other three. As a result, teachers have to be aware that non-functioning group work can negatively impact pupils' possibility of achieving the grade-related tasks for the subject. 

  • 6.
    Lindblom, Cecilia
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Food and Nutrition.
    Erixon Arreman, Inger
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of applied educational science, Child and Youth education, Special Education and Counselling.
    Bohm, Ingela
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Food and Nutrition.
    Hörnell, Agneta
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Food and Nutrition.
    The importance of time frames in Swedish Home and Consumer Studies2016In: International Journal of Consumer Studies, ISSN 1470-6423, E-ISSN 1470-6431, Vol. 40, no 3, p. 299-308Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The aim of this study was to explore how time frames affect pupils and teachers in cooking activities during lessons of different durations for Home and Consumer Studies, with a specific focus on the pupils’ experiences. To investigate this, classroom observations were carried out in 2011 and 2012, with the help of audio and video recordings in three different schools in Sweden and included altogether 22 pupils (18 girls, 4 boys) in grade 9 (15–16 years). Each class was observed during two separate lessons, lasting between 1 h 50 minutes (110 minutes) and 2 h 20 minutes (140 minutes). The six lessons resulted in 12 hours of video recorded time and 80 hours of sound recordings.

    The study showed that the importance of finishing on time seemed to be ingrained in most pupils in all classes and the end result was perceived as more important than the process of cooking. The study also showed that knowledge of cooking skills and time management seemed important for success in grade-related tasks. Pupils demonstrated different ways of handling the time frames, e.g. using various methods to speed up the cooking process. This study raises important questions about the relationship between national and local time frames and the curriculum aims in Home and Consumer Studies. 

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