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School of Social and Political Science: Research


Unpacking the lunchbox: biopedagogies, mothering and social class

Unpacking the lunchbox: biopedagogies, mothering and social class
Speaker: Dr Benedetta Cappellini # Royal Holloway University of London; Hosted by: Dr Isabel Fletcher # University of Edinburgh
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Date and Time
16th May 2019 15:30 - 16th May 2019 17:00
Seminar Room 4, Chrystal Macmillan Building, 15a George Square, EH8 9L

This talk investigates how mothers respond to school surveillance of their children's packed lunches. In a context where increasing attention is focused on healthy eating, we adopt a biopedagogical approach to illustrate different positions and strategies which mothers occupy in relation to feeding their children in the school setting. We use photo‐elicitation interviews and focus groups to trace both the discursive and practical significance of these biopedagogies. We find that the subjective experiences of feeding children at school are infused with classed notions of mothering in public. Our analysis highlights two broad positions. Firstly, there were those with strong distinctions between home‐food and school‐food, which was associated more clearly with middle class families. Secondly, there were those with more fluid boundaries between home‐food and school‐food. This was more commonly encapsulated by working class mothers who were seen to place more emphasis on their children as autonomous decision‐makers. Overall the findings document localised and classed practices of resisting the school's normalising gaze.

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