Men's talk about food: a discourse analysis

Gillon, Ewan James (1998). Men's talk about food: a discourse analysis. PhD thesis The Open University.



In this thesis I examine men's talk about food. I argue that many academic knowledges of food have adopted a realist epistemological stance that is problematic with regards to the functional and constructive nature of language. Consequently, I propose a focus upon how language is used to construct food in talk. I also argue that gender has .been highlighted by much research as of significance in relation to food, but that men have been subject to very little in-depth study. I therefore propose a need to examine men's accounts of food. Employing a discursive action approach, I examine accounts produced by eight men. In talk about meat, I argue speakers reject the proposition that meat is essential, but also acknowledge its significance for health. I propose they downplay salad as a central feature of diet yet deny that it is objected to. I also suggest that respondents seem sensitive to a number of negative inferences relating to the consumption of sweets and biscuits. Additionally, speakers downplay the likelihood of buying slimming foods and characterise weight as un-problematic. However, they also stress that their weight is monitored. Similarly, respondents reject feeling guilty about food but demonstrate that their food consumption is not unregulated. In relation to cooking and shopping, I propose speakers deny that they are responsible for these tasks within the household. However, I also suggest that they display a sensitivity to potentially negative inferences, such as inequity, that may arise in connection with this state of affairs. Finally, I assert that participants deny eating at fast food restaurants and stress their variable explanations they produce. To conclude I highlight the complexity of food as a topic of study and consider the utility of a discourse analytic approach to men' 5 accounts in this area.

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