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Free Content “Of course we’ll like it, we’re kids!”: interrogating childhood and parenting through children’s food

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The notion that children naturally gravitate towards sugary, starchy, packaged foods ‐ and that carefully regulating their consumption is integral to good parenting ‐ seems common sense to many in the USA and beyond. Yet such facts are not universal, but part of how childhood is being constructed in a particular moment. Drawing on in-depth ethnographic research in Atlanta among adults and children, this article examines how visions of childhood were reproduced through food practices and discourses in one school community. Here, parenting was understood to involve monitoring what children consumed, to some extent working against children’s perceived natures; at the same time, parents hesitated to overly control or limit childhood pleasures, indicating tensions in neoliberal imperatives towards self-management (to which children’s putatively unmeasured and unsophisticated tastes presented both challenges and imaginative contrast). Ultimately, the study interrogates the sociopolitical effects of such discourses about the tastes of the ‘typical child’, which can elide and obscure dynamics of class.
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Keywords: childhood; ethnography; food; neoliberalism; parenting

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Georgia State University, USA

Publication date: March 2020

This article was made available online on September 2, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "“Of course we’ll like it, we’re kids!”: Interrogating childhood and parenting through children’s food".

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