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KK-senteret, Pilestredet 46, 3th floor, room for 25-30
Negotiations of food, respectability and gender. Discourses and food practices among women in disadvantaged conditions
Kia Ditlevsen, Bente Halkier, Lotte Holm
Food and eating habits have an inherent moralizing aspect differentiating proper conduct from incorrect, the respectable from the vulgar (Bourdieu 2004; Skjøtt-Larsen 2012). When interviewing men and women living in relatively poor households in Denmark, we found that their food practices were conditioned by severe financial scarcity and in most households also by the need of handling diseases or disorders (Ditlevsen, Holm & Halkier, forthcoming). Food practices were often at odds with conventions as well as individual understandings of healthy and proper food and eating. Food activities were not gendered as such, but discourses of food and health among participants were. The inherently moralizing aspect of food and health were more prevalent among the participating women, who appeared more concerned about societal norms and discourses, compared to the participating men. Bodily appearance, food and eating are notable signifiers of morality and in/exclusions from the realm of respectability, which affects men and women differently (Bourdieu 2001; Skeggs 2002). Following Beverly Skeggs (2002), we understand ‘respectability’ as an important cultural signal by which the individual mirrors her subject position and social acceptance.
In this presentation, we will look into how underprivileged women discursively negotiate their own respectability in conditions that do not (always) allow them to keep up with societal norms about health, proper eating and citizenship, and investigate how women who live on the fringes of societal acceptance use food in negotiations of respectability and appropriateness.
Occasions and clothing volumes: preliminary findings from nine ethnographic wardrobe studies
In the last 40 years, we have seen a rapid increase in the amounts of clothing produced and consumed, which has severe consequences for our planet. To lower the environmental impacts from clothing, we need to reduce the consumption but there is limited knowledge on how to target those practices that ultimately leads to higher volumes of clothing in our wardrobes. One way to gain more knowledge about how we use clothing is to investigate the relationship between occasions, both ordinary and special, and clothing volumes. Today, there are a diversity of practices that require particular forms of clothing, such as jogging, going to work, swimming, eating out, and sleeping, that characterise how, when and how much clothes are used. These practices also feature occasions, both ordinary and special occasions, in which social and cultural norms create understandings about what is appropriate or inappropriate to wear. During the last century, the number of different occasions has increased, which affects the volume of clothing in wardrobes. This paper will employ preliminary findings from nine ethnographic wardrobe studies conducted in Norway, Portugal and Uruguay. For one month, three couples from each country will document via photography how they dress for different activities during the week. In addition, the study involves a piling exercise where all the clothing in their wardrobes are counted and piled based on occasions. Preliminary findings show that there are big differences between men and women in terms of amount of clothing per occasion. Insights and more knowledge on the use of clothing can enable us to find where the clothing volumes are highest, specifically target the reasons behind the high turnover and identify potential points of intervention.
Sustainable consumption, prosumption and gender: green DIY practices in a post- socialist Czechia
The paper focuses on the gender aspects of sustainable consumption and green prosumption. It studies gendered discourses and the practices of the ‘green’ segment of Czech DIY culture that emphasises ecological sustainability, self-reliance and domesticity. Green prosumption is a bricolage of traditional practices, socialist do-it-yourself strategies and new trends coming from abroad (such as permaculture, natural building, making homemade cosmetics and so on). Western researchers have associated the practices of sustainable consumption and turn to domesticity with women and traditional gender roles in the household, but this paper addresses the gender-specific aspects of prosumption and its green form in a post-socialist country. In what aspects is the green prosumption gender specific? Does it bring back the traditional gender roles? Are the practices of sustainable consumption perceived as a burden and gender injustice? The paper aims at broadening the discussions on gender aspects of sustainable consumption and new forms of green prosumption from an Eastern European perspective. The research is based on a qualitative sociological examination using in-depth interviews, participant observation, and media analyses. The author argues that sustainable consumption is performed mostly by women and there is a gender division of roles in the sphere of green prosumption, however, the examples of men (active fathers) and women (self-reliant mothers and homesteaders) in Czechia undermine the traditional division of labour. Alternative gender roles in the household seem to be part of alternative sustainable and prosumer lifestyles. Rural prosumers, men and women, perform both paid work and domestic work, and for urban prosumers the traditional division of gender roles tends to be temporary during maternity leave which in Czech case is very long (up to four years). Green prosumer practices are interpreted not as a burden, but often as an expression of autonomy and empowerment (not only) for women.