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Narratives of progress: Cooking and gender equality among Swedish men
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Food, Nutrition and Dietetics.
Institutionen för samhälls- och välfärdsstudier, Linköpings universitet; Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Linköping University.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Food, Nutrition and Dietetics.
2017 (English)In: Journal of Gender Studies, ISSN 0958-9236, E-ISSN 1465-3869, Vol. 26, no 2, 151-163 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Feminist food studies have repeatedly identified a dichotomy of ‘masculine’ self-oriented cooking as leisure and ‘feminine’ other and care-oriented foodwork (meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning up after meals). However, recent research suggests that there is a great deal of variety and contradiction in men’s accounts of their cooking practices. For example, men may find cooking a tedious and stressful responsibility and foodwork a fatherly duty. This article draws on interviews with 31 Swedish men from 22 to 88 years of age, and explores stories about cooking and foodwork as part of their everyday lives and their life transitions and how these relate to broader notions of food and gender equality. The data illuminating the men’s stories can be synthesised into two narratives of progress: a narrative of progress in gender equality in Sweden, where men’s participation in household labour has become taken for granted, and a narrative of culinary progress among Swedish men in general and among some of the interviewed men themselves. We agree with previous scholars who have argued for a reconsideration of the simplistic picture of men’s cooking as only being for the self and for leisure. We further show how the men express foodwork as a self-evident responsibility, regardless of whether the men find it fun or not, and that a desirable masculinity is represented by a man whose cooking skills have progressed beyond the survival level and who is more gender equal than what are perceived to be less-progressive men from previous generations and foreign cultural backgrounds.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2017. Vol. 26, no 2, 151-163 p.
Keyword [en]
Men, masculinities, foodwork, cooking, gender equality, progress narratives
National Category
Gender Studies
Research subject
Food, Nutrition and Dietetics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-263076DOI: 10.1080/09589236.2015.1090306ISI: 000399923500004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-263076DiVA: diva2:856732
Available from: 2015-09-25 Created: 2015-09-25 Last updated: 2017-11-30
In thesis
1. Stories of masculinity, gender equality, and culinary progress: On foodwork, cooking, and men in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Stories of masculinity, gender equality, and culinary progress: On foodwork, cooking, and men in Sweden
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The general aim of this thesis is to use foodwork and cooking in Sweden as a way to better understand theoretical questions about men and masculinities. Paper I discusses how an increased public interest in elaborate cooking and gastronomy in Sweden, a country with a cultural idealization of gender equality, could explain why men in Sweden assume responsibilities for domestic cooking without feeling emasculated. Papers II, III and IV draw on interviews with 31 men from 22 to 88 years of age and with different levels of interest in food. Paper II shows how domestic foodwork and cooking are associated with ideas of Swedish progress in terms of gender equality and culinary skills. Paper III demonstrates further that domestic cooking is not only a responsibility which men assume, but also a way of being sociable with friends, partners and children. Thus, both papers II and III challenge the idea that men only cook at home if they enjoy it. The data rather indicate that domestic foodwork responsibilities are a cultural expectation of men in Sweden, ingrained in desirable masculine practices. Paper IV explores men’s responses to media representations of food. The interviewed men responded to these representations with indifference, pragmatism, irony, and at times even hostility. In general, the responses are based on gender and age-differentiated taste distinctions and notions of masculine and culinary excess. Paper V uses a mix of texts (81 online texts and two magazines) and observations from the food fairs GastroNord (2014 and 2016), Mitt kök-mässan (2014) and the chef competition Bocuse d’Or Europe (2014) complemented with pictures and videos. I argue that a Swedish culinary community that promotes Swedish culinary excellence is constructed by drawing on preestablished national (self-)images. This culinary community is constructed as open and tolerant, with ethical concerns for the environment and for nonhuman animals. Its culinary icons are represented by chefs in whites and the leading restaurants. In sum, this dissertation provides empirical and theoretical contributions to both food studies and gender studies that critically scrutinize men and masculinities. Food-issues are permeated by gender, both in people’s everyday life and in the gastronomic elite.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2016. 106 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 132
Keyword
foodwork, cooking, food studies, men and masculinities, gender equality, domestic work, culinary excellence, food, gastronomy, celebrity chefs, national identity, androcentrism, homosociality
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Gender Studies Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Food, Nutrition and Dietetics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-301494 (URN)978-91-554-9701-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-11-11, A1: 107a, Uppsala Biomedical Centre (BMC), Husargatan 3, Uppsala, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-10-20 Created: 2016-08-23 Last updated: 2016-11-02

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Neuman, NicklasFjellström, Christina

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