Food and Inequality - Qualitative Methods - Women and Gender Studies
Select Current Projects
Reaching Across the Table
Within the field of sociology, how and why we eat together in the 21st century is a growing area of interest. Friends, family, and food are strongly connected in the public imagination. The dinner table, both literally and figuratively, is stereotypically seen as a place that brings people together. The dinner table evokes an often taken-for-granted assumption: we eat together, and it is meaningful. My dissertation research follows two attempts to build and strengthen community and social connections through shared meals. Data for this project comes from 18 months of ethnographic observations and interviews at two organizations working to address food insecurity. Both organizations have stated goals of addressing food insecurity and building stronger communities, in part through the creation of relationships among diverse groups of people.
Exploring mitigating factors for women
navigating emergency food providers
Building upon findings from part of my dissertation research, I am also working on a project investigating how safety influences low-income and homeless women's ability to access the food they need. Preliminary results suggest that violence or the fear of violence deter women from going to certain food providers and effect their ability to get the food and resources they so desperately need.
Learning to Eat the “Right” Way:
Examining Nutrition Socialization from the Perspective of Immigrants and Refugees
Existing studies suggests that immigrants’ dietary quality often declines over time after they move to the U.S., despite public and private efforts to provide immigrants and refugees to the U.S. with nutritional resources. Drawing on two interview-based studies with immigrants (n=30) and refugees (n=8) in North Carolina, we find that these immigrant/refugee communities often have healthy food traditions from their home countries that they want to maintain, but they lack guidance about how to navigate the U.S. food system in order to do so. Our findings question the notion that “good nutrition” is a universal concept; we argue that by focusing solely on the nutritional components of food, rather than approaching dietary behavior holistically, service providers exacerbate the challenges that immigrants and refugees face in continuing healthy food traditions in the U.S. Our analyses extend previous research on food socialization by specifically examining the nutrition socialization process of immigrant and refugees, furthering our understanding of how and why immigrants’ diets change over time.