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Talking about taste : using a discursive psychological approach to examine challenges to food evaluations

Wiggins, Sally (2004) Talking about taste : using a discursive psychological approach to examine challenges to food evaluations. Appetite, 43 (1). pp. 29-38. ISSN 0195-6663

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This study is concerned with developing the interdisciplinary nature of food research, and with examining eating practices as they occur in everyday situations. The aim is to demonstrate how discursive approaches may contribute to eating research using a specific analytical example. A discursive psychological approach is used to examine mealtime conversations from 10 families with the analysis focusing on how food evaluations are challenged in interaction - for example, asking someone to justify what they think is 'wrong' with the food. Data are presented with 7 examples of the 30 challenges that were found within the data corpus. The analysis demonstrates how people may be held accountable for their expressed taste preferences when being challenged, and how this contributes to our understanding of eating as primarily an individual and embodied experience. It is argued that a specific and detailed analysis of eating interactions provides an alternative way of conceptualising food evaluations as discursive rather than mentalistic concepts. A discursive approach also opens up practical ways in which the social and familial aspects of eating may be examined as they occur as part of food practices.