Position: Research Associate
Faculty: Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI)
Field: Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI)
Address: SCI, The University of Manchester, 188 Waterloo Place, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
Phone: +44 (0)161 306 1213
I joined the Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI), University of Manchester, UK as Research Associate in October 2014. At SCI, I primarily work on the replication of the study ‘Eating Out: Social Differentiation, Consumption and Pleasure’ as first published in 2000. This was the report of the first extended empirical sociological research project on the subject of eating out from the point of view of the experiences of diners. Using a survey in three English cities and some face-to-face interviews the research explored what and where people ate, when, with whom as part of a process of understanding the social significance of this new and expanding practice. By understanding any changes and continuities in patterns of eating out since then, we hope to gather insights as to how systems of food provision may be re-configured to be more sustainable in the future.
Further research interests lie with exploring the links between natural resource use, inequalities, cultural differentiation and food security through interdisciplinary social-natural scientific research. This work has previously included a project funded by the UK’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Darwin Initiative, and was conducted while working at the Sustainable Places Research Institute (PLACE), Cardiff University. The project aimed to understand the role of seagrass conservation for boosting food security across a small island archipelago in the West Indies – the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI). Here, working within the context of environmental changes that affect the islands’ once abundant fisheries, research with diverse community groups explored a third and often neglected pillar of food security; the appropriateness of food available in such a changing environment. Such appreciation of change and continuity in food preferences and practice underpins the process of identifying more effective governance strategies at the interface of ecosystems and the food system.
Previous work with the Climate Change Consortium of Wales at Cardiff University explored routines surrounding household food provision and consumption in order to better inform policies aimed at inculcating more sustainable ways of life. This research followed on from an Economic and Social Research Council funded PhD in Sociology, which was completed in 2012 with the thesis; ‘Class, Food, Culture: Exploring ‘Alternative Food Consumption’. Here I studied an alternative food network in Wales. Here, I considered the role of class culture in mediating the practice of alternative food consumption, finding that alternative food played a part in marking boundaries of distinction between ‘ us’ and ‘them’. The thesis argued that in reproducing certain ideas about proper eating, we confine our imagining of alternative food futures to a limited politics of the possible, thus constraining future development of more equitable alternatives to conventional foodways.