Food, eating and taste : parents' perspectives on the making of the middle class teenager
This paper reports findings from a qualitative study of views and understandings of dietary practices in middle class families. Thirty five parents/main food providers of boys and girls aged 13/14 years, living in Eastern Scotland, were interviewed about their and their teenagers’ everyday lives, food, health and family practices. One of our aims was to understand more about the social and cultural conditions which might be promoting more positive dietary health and physical well-being amongst middle class families. Most parents’ accounts appeared rooted in a taken-for-grantedness that family members enjoyed good health, lived in relatively secure and unthreatening environments regarding health and resources, and were able to lead active lives, which they valued. Although controlling teenagers’ eating practices was presented as an ongoing challenge, active supervision and surveillance of their diets was described, as was guiding tastes in ‘the right direction’. Parents described attempts to achieve family eating practices such as commensality, cooking from scratch, and encouraging a varied and nutritional ‘adult’ diet and cosmopolitan tastes, though work and activities could compromise these. These middle class families might be characterized as having future oriented ‘hierarchies of luxury and choice’, in which controlling and moulding teenagers’ food practices and tastes was assigned a high priority.