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What is food? Researching a topic with many meanings

Book cover: What is food?

This book takes a broad, interdisciplinary look at current research on the food system, covering topics such as eating in restaurants, food poverty, school meals, public perceptions of the food system, and community food initiatives.

Publisher’s summary

This volume brings together contributions that provide a snapshot of current food research. What is Food? acknowledges the many dimensions of food, including its social, cultural, symbolic and sensual qualities, while also being material in that it is fundamental to our survival.

The collection addresses contemporary challenges and reflects the concerns of funders and researchers working in the broad field of the sociology of food: dietary health, sustainability, food safety and food poverty. Reflecting broader academic trends, the chapters are moreover concerned with interdisciplinarity, the analysis of change, data reuse and the use of social media as data. The book includes empirical evidence from around the UK, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and Taiwan and addresses food both as a lens through which to examine these wider social relationships, processes and social change and as a primary subject.

The contributions will be of interest to a wide range of students and researchers looking for a cutting-edge insight into how to frame and study food in areas related to the sociology of food, health, risk, poverty, sustainability and research methods.



Gustafsson, U., O'Connell, R., Draper, A. and Tonner, A. eds., 2019. What is Food?: Researching a Topic with Many Meanings. Routledge, Abingdon.

Read more here. See also the Table explainer An overview of food system challenges.

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