"He just has to like ham" - The centrality of meat in home and consumer studies

Ingela Bohm, Cecilia Lindblom, Gun Åbacka, Carita Bengs, Agneta Hörnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


This study aimed to describe Discourses on meat in the school subject Home and Consumer Studies in five different northern Swedish schools. Fifty-nine students and five teachers from five different schools were recorded and in some cases video-taped during lessons. Results indicate that meat was seen as central to nutritional health, sensory experience, culture and social relationships. This positive view was challenged by an alternative Discourse where meat was threatening to health, sensory experience and psychological comfort, but this was not strong enough to affect centrality. Even when participants sought to promote the health advantages of reducing meat consumption, the dominant centrality Discourse was strengthened. This implies that the possible tension between physical and psychosocial/emotional health can make the benefits of a reduction difficult both to convey and accept. A form of critical food literacy may help teachers deconstruct the arbitrary power of the centrality Discourse, but it may also strengthen meat-eater identities because the social norms that guide food choice become salient. A redesign of Discourses might facilitate a reduction in meat consumption, but such a paradigm shift is dependent on the development of society as a whole, and can only be briefly touched upon within the limited timeframes and resources of Home and Consumer Studies.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)101–112
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Home economics
  • Health education
  • Discourse analysis
  • Critical food analysis

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