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Negotiating Health and Morality: Interactions about Food and Eating among U.S. Working Families


Amy L. Paugh
paughal@jmu.edu

and

Carolina Izquierdo
cizquier@ucla.edu

UCLA Sloan Center on Everyday Lives of Families
Working Paper No. 73
2008

Abstract

This paper analyzes interactions about food and eating among dual-earner middle-class families in Los Angeles, California. It synthesizes approaches from medical and linguistic anthropology to investigate how health is defined and negotiated both in interviews and everyday communication. In particular, we examine food interactions for what they can reveal about family life, conflict between parents and children over eating practices, and the everyday construction of health. It explores dinnertime episodes from five families to illustrate the flexibility and bargaining involved as parents and children struggle with health-related practices, values, and morality in everyday life. We compare naturally occurring video-taped interactions to parentsí evaluations of their familiesí health elicited in interviews.

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