Food in Society and Culture – Research across the Social Sciences and the Humanities University of Helsinki, Finland, 4-6 May 2015
The symposium aims to develop new analytical approaches to the study of food in the Humanities, Economics, and the Social Sciences with attention to issues of food production, consumption, and food cultures in contemporary society. There are economic, social and cultural issues related to food, which have given rise to intense debates between experts, policymakers and consumers. The conference will examine these themes, taking into account the whole food chain from primary production to the consumer. The conference seeks to make new theoretical and empirical breakthroughs on what is the role of food in contemporary society and culture. The aim is also to consider how research methods used in different academic disciplines could benefit each other.
Exploring the conditions of food production, via analyses of the organization of everyday life, consumer ‘taste’ and other cultural choices, will be approached at the macro and micro levels, respectively in relation to the involvement of state governance, large social structures and social groupings, and subjective dimensions of agency, identity and meaning. At the micro-level, lifestyle and food choices are closely connected to the idea of agency; i.e. the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices and subscribe to these choices various meanings. There are situations in which subjective action is confronted with the societal modes of governance and regulation. For example, in the sociology of consumption and lifestyle, subjective action is often seen in terms of power/resistance dynamic towards corporate capitalism that has become a target of anti-consumerist discourse not only in social sciences but also in broader public debate. As a result, the idea of resistance in various forms, namely, alternative food movements, ethical consumption, and other movements and practices has gained popularity.
The symposium breaks new disciplinary ground by bringing together scholars from different disciplines whose collaboration on the topic is still quite rare towards developing conceptual tools for theoretical and empirical research. For the international academic community the symposium offers an excellent opportunity for networking and forming contacts.
Dr. Leena Kaunonen, (Chair), Docent, Department of Finnish, Finno-Ugrian and Scandinavian Studies, University of Helsinki
Dr. Minna Autio, Senior lecturer, Docent, Department of Economics and Management, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Helsinki
Johanna Mäkelä, Professor in Food Culture, Department of Teacher Education, Faculty of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki
The symposium is funded by The Federation of Finnish Learned Societies and The Department of Finnish, Finno-Ugrian and Scandinavian Studies, University of Helsinki