‘Proper’ food under economic restraints: Gendered food practices and dietary health among socioeconomically disadvantaged


In Denmark, social inequality in health has risen over the past 20 years in spite of political ambitions to the contrary (Koch et al., 2012; Brønnum-Hansen et al., 2015). At the macro-level, it is well-established across both social and health sciences that the most disadvantaged socio-economic groups are also the ones who suffer the most from poor health (Mackenbach et al., 2017; Marmot, 2004; Phelan et al., 2010). But the micro-level foundations of the connections between low socioeconomic status and poor health are decidedly under-researched. This project proposes to remedy this lack. The research strategy is to combine a qualitative empirical investigation of the everyday social micro-processes in food practices under socioeconomic disadvantaged conditions with a conceptual renewal of current practice theories (Warde, 2016). Food practices are important for population health and are central to public health strategies, including discourses on ‘proper’ diet (Aartsen et al., 2017; Larsen, 2011; Vallgårda, 2001). Food practices are also highly gendered (Counihan, 2012; O'Doherty Jensen and Holm, 1999), which is why this project combines two subprojects, each focusing on men and women respectively.

Research question

How are conditions and experiences of socioeconomic disadvantage enacted in food practices and in the handling of food related health discourses among Danish men and women?

Project team

Bente Halkier, professor, Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen; Lotte Holm, professor, Department of Food and Resource Economics (IFRO), University of Copenhagen; Kia Ditlevsen, assistant professor, Department of Food and Resource Economics (IFRO), University of Copenhagen; NN, postdoc, Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen.