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Syllabus:

Understanding food habits: a sociological perspective, 7.5 Credits

Swedish name: Våra matvanor ur ett sociologiskt perspektiv

This syllabus is valid: 2018-08-13 and until further notice

Course code: 2KN050

Credit points: 7.5

Education level: Second cycle

Main Field of Study and progress level: Food and Nutrition: Second cycle, has only first-cycle course/s as entry requirements

Grading scale: VG Pass with distinction, G Pass, U Fail

Responsible department: Department of Food, Nutrition and Culinary Science

Revised by: Head of Department of Food and Nutrition, 2018-06-11

Contents

There is more information on food and nutrition available now than ever before and yet food behaviour often deviates from scientific advice. Despite good intentions, interference with or attempts to control people’s food habits can elicit strong reactions. Clashes may occur between cultures and there is a tendency towards conflict around food. To understand these conflicts and dilemmas, food and/or health professionals must recognise how eating habits are formed and the factors that influence them.

In this course, food choice and eating behaviour are explored using the perspectives of class, gender, ethnicity, age, socio-economic status, life course trajectory, religion, geographic region, and family structure. The complex interplay of agency and structure is applied to real life contexts through assignments dealing with availability, prevailing food and health discourses, and personal/professional development.

The course is aimed at both professionals and individuals who encounter food dilemmas, giving them the analytical tools to identify the roots of potential problems and understand different views on food and eating, thereby developing the ability to act as mediators or sounding boards in challenging situations. Possible target groups are preschool teachers, psychologists, catering staff, the medical professions, and other caregivers.

Part 1. Food as symbol, sustenance and socialisation, 5 Credits
This part of the course covers factors which influence food habits, such as gender, age, race, social status, life course transitions, , religion, family structure, convenience and context. These factors are viewed in connection to cultural definitions of food, its symbolic meanings, power relations and food norms.

Part 2. Food culture and professional or personal development, 2.5 Credits
In this part of the course, the student analyses real life situations, current discourses and their own professional or personal views on food and eating with the help of the sociological tools offered in part 1.
 

Expected learning outcomes

Part 1. Food as symbol, sustenance and socialisation, 5 Credits
On successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

Knowledge and understanding
  • Use sociological terms to explain how cultural norms influence food habits and preferences
Skills
  • Identify social structures and cultural norms that influence food habits in real life contexts
  • Analyze how dominant discourses create positive and negative attitudes to food and eaters
Analytical ability and attitude
  • Demonstrate an open-minded attitude towards different food habits by problematizing taken-for-granted truths and explicating what is seen as deviant food habits using a sociological lens

Part 2. Food culture and professional or personal development, 2.5 Credits
On successful completion of the course, students will be able to:
Analytical ability and attitude
  • Reflect on a food-related dilemma within a professional or family framework by using a social constructionist perspective

Required Knowledge

Univ. Courses at least 90 ECTS in one subject. Proficiency in English equivalent to Swedish upper secondary course English A (IELTS (Academic) with a minimum overall score of 5.5 and no individual score below 5.0. TOEFL PBT (Paper-based Test) with a minimum total score of 530 and a minimum TWE score of 4. TOEFL iBT (Internet-based Test) with a minimum total score of 72 and a minimum score of 17 on the Writing Section). Where the language of instruction is Swedish, applicants must prove proficiency in Swedish to the level required for basic eligibility for higher studies.

Form of instruction

Lectures, reading requirements and discussions will be web-based. You must have Internet access. All teaching materials will be in English.

Examination modes

Assessment is based on individual written assignments (essays and an individual project). Assignments may be written in English or Swedish. To pass the course, all work must be graded pass (G). To pass the course with distinction (VG), the individual project, and one other assignment, must be graded VG.
For rules and regulations about the examination/assessment see the Umeå University Code of Rules and Procedures.

Equivalency credits
The equivalence of course credits (completely or partially) can be assessed (see the Umeå University Code of Rules and Procedures). An application can be made on a special form according to the Student Services directive

Academic credit transfers
Academic credit transfers follow University credit transfer regulations.
 

Literature

  • Valid from: 2019 week 33

    "He just has to like ham" - The centrality of meat in home and consumer studies
    Bohm I, Lindblom C, Åbacka G, Bengs C, Hörnell A
    Appetite : 2015 :

    School meal sociality or lunch pack individualism? Using an intervention study to compare the social impacts of school meals and packed lunches from home.
    Andersen S, Holm L, Baarts C
    Social Science Information : 2015 :

    Why healthy eating is bad for young people’s health: Identity, belonging and food.
    Stead M, McDermott L, MacKintosh A. M, Adamson A
    Social science & medicine : 2011 :

    From fatness to badness: The modern morality of obesity
    Grønning I, Scambler G, Tjora A
    Health : 2012 :

    Symbolic interactionism and critical perspective: divergent or synergistic?
    Burbank P.M, Martins D.C
    Nurs Philos : 2010 :
    Mandatory

    "But it's all true!" commercialism and commitment in the discourse of organic food promotion
    Cook G, Read M, Twinner A
    Text & Talk : 2009 :
    Mandatory

    Food and eating as social practice – understanding eating patterns as social phenomena and implications for public health
    Delormier Treena, Frohlich Ketherine L, Potvin Louise
    Sociology of Health & Illness Volume 31, Issue 2, pages 215–228, March 2009 :
    Mandatory

    Hausermannt T
    I can’t eat that: The sociology behind the rise in food allergies and intolerance
    Current Sociology : 2015 :

    Higgs S
    Social norms and their influence on eating behaviours
    Appetite : 2015 :
    Mandatory

    Democracy versus Distinction: A Study of Omnivorousness in Gourmet Food Writing
    Johnston J, Baumann S
    American Journal of Sociology : 2007 :
    Mandatory

    Nutritional health messages in women's magazines: a conflicted space for women readers
    Madden H, Chamberlain K
    Journal of health psychology : 2004 :
    Mandatory

    "Eat like a man". A social constructionist analysis of the role of food in men's lives
    Newcombe M, McCarthy M.B, Cronin J.M, McCarthy S.N
    Appetite 59 : 2012 :
    Mandatory

    Wills W
    "The framing of social class distinctions through family food and eating practices"
    The Sociological Review : 2011 :
    Mandatory

    Scientific articles will be added

    de Garine I
    Views about food prejudice and stereotypes
    Social science information : 2001 :

    Ward P
    Editorial: A sociology of food and eating: Why now?
    Journal of Sociology : 2010 :

    Obesity, health, and physical activity: Discourses from the United States
    Zieff S.G, Veri M.J
    Quest : 2009 :

  • Valid from: 2018 week 33

    Symbolic interactionism and critical perspective: divergent or synergistic?
    Burbank P.M, Martins D.C
    Nurs Philos : 2010 :
    Mandatory

    "But it's all true!" commercialism and commitment in the discourse of organic food promotion
    Cook G, Read M, Twinner A
    Text & Talk : 2009 :
    Mandatory

    Food and eating as social practice – understanding eating patterns as social phenomena and implications for public health
    Delormier Treena, Frohlich Ketherine L, Potvin Louise
    Sociology of Health & Illness Volume 31, Issue 2, pages 215–228, March 2009 :
    Mandatory

    Higgs S
    Social norms and their influence on eating behaviours
    Appetite : 2015 :
    Mandatory

    Democracy versus Distinction: A Study of Omnivorousness in Gourmet Food Writing
    Johnston J, Baumann S
    American Journal of Sociology : 2007 :
    Mandatory

    Nutritional health messages in women's magazines: a conflicted space for women readers
    Madden H, Chamberlain K
    Journal of health psychology : 2004 :
    Mandatory

    Editorial: What took you so long? Sociology's recent foray into food
    McMillan J, Conveney J
    Health Sociology Review : 2010 :
    Mandatory

    "I don't want to be sexists but..."
    McPhail D, Beagan B, Champman G.E
    Food Culture & society : 2012 :
    Mandatory

    "Eat like a man". A social constructionist analysis of the role of food in men's lives
    Newcombe M, McCarthy M.B, Cronin J.M, McCarthy S.N
    Appetite 59 : 2012 :
    Mandatory

    Constructing food choice decisions
    Sobal J, Bosogne C.A
    Ann Behav Med, 38 Suppl 1 : 2009 :
    Mandatory

    Thomson D
    Big food and the body politics of personal responsibility
    Southern Communication Journal : 2009 :
    Mandatory

    Mindless eating - The 200 daily food decisions we overlook
    Wansink B, Sobal J
    Envirorment and Behavior : 2007 :
    Mandatory

    Wills W
    "The framing of social class distinctions through family food and eating practices"
    The Sociological Review : 2011 :
    Mandatory

    Scientific articles will be added

    de Garine I
    Views about food prejudice and stereotypes
    Social science information : 2001 :

    Ward P
    Editorial: A sociology of food and eating: Why now?
    Journal of Sociology : 2010 :

    Obesity, health, and physical activity: Discourses from the United States
    Zieff S.G, Veri M.J
    Quest : 2009 :