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“Figuring Out the Food Consumer” Food research Collaboration blog-post

In this blog-post, various archetypes or tropes of consumers are portrayed and scrutinized. General claims about consumer behaviour that pervade the discourse of food politics are discussed and three archetypes are identified. The author, Dr Ben Richardson from the Department of Politics and International Studies at University of Warwick, describes and questions both the figures of the food consumer being presented to us and the ideological projects with which they are associated.

Looking particularly at sugar consumption in the UK the author has discerned three sets of claims that have been made about the consumer, each embodying a different economic rationality. The first of these consumer tropes presented is the archetype the Economic Man, the second consumer trope is the Empathetic Woman and the third and last is the Pathetic Child. In this post Richardson discusses what the implications of these archetypes are for food labelling. He argues that reforming labelling may be necessary if we believe that the consumer is not the kind of person who responds to nutritional information but someone who bases their decisions on peer pressure, relative prices, time constraints or culinary habits.

The post highlights the gendered, class and generational assumptions on which these tropes rest and they are analysed to see what particular ideological projects that they can be identified with and how they tend to be described as structuring consumer thinking in predictable ways.  The article urges researchers to challenge received wisdom and to beware of and recognise when these tropes are being used. As the author writes, this is important not only when discussing 'the consumer' but other common figures of the food economy such as 'the farmer' too.

Read the full article here.

You can find more interesting resources related to economic and political theories, behaviour and practice theory, consumer perceptions and preferences, food consumption  in other research library categories.

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