Informal mealtime pedagogies: exploring the influence of family structure on young people's healthy eating dispositions

Through the use of Bourdieu’s conceptual tools, this paper explores the role of family meals within different family structures and the informal pedagogic encounters that take place

Thomas Quarmby; Symeon Dagkas

2013

Scholarcy highlights

  • With growing concerns about obesity and overall health, it is important to understand when, where and how young people come to learn about health-related behaviours and healthy eating
  • Through the use of Bourdieu’s conceptual tools, the purpose of this paper is to explore the role of family meals within different family structures and the specific pedagogic practices that take place and help construct young people’s understanding, agency and dispositions with regard to healthy eating
  • Drawing from an interpretive approach and through engaging with Bourdieu’s key concepts, the purpose of this paper is to explore the role of family meals within different family structures and the specific pedagogic practices that take place and help construct young people’s healthy eating dispositions
  • Family meals offer an insight into the sensitive nature of family life and importantly, serve as a space to inform young people about healthy eating and appropriate eating choices
  • The narrative accounts suggest that eating together on a daily basis might not be achieved in some lone parent and stepfamilies due to various sociocultural constraints of working patterns, time restrictions and because parents in recently established stepfamilies spent more time together, but apart from their children. They engage in fewer family meals which restrict the pedagogic encounters, transmission and reinforcement of such values
  • We suggest in this paper that family meals are an informal pedagogic context that can influence healthy practices and dispositions in youth, but only for those whose social conditions and family life afford time and effort for parents to create a climate that is conducive to acquiring such knowledge, beliefs and values about healthy eating
  • We should not assume that family meals are the only time or space in which intentional pedagogical work regarding health is carried out, though it may be a prominent one

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