To like or not to like: Negotiating food assessments of children from families with a low socioeconomic position

Amy van der Heijden*, Hedwig te Molder, Bogdana Huma, Gerry Jager

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The present study explored how primary school-aged children from families with a low socioeconomic position produce ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ of foods during everyday family meals, and how these (dis)likes are understood and treated by their parents. It is crucial to understand how food preferences develop in the course of everyday life, as it is known that there are socioeconomic disparities in food preference and consumption, and that children from families with a low socioeconomic position have relatively poorer diets. Deploying an interactional approach to food preference, video recordings of 79 evening meals in families with a low socioeconomic position were analyzed using discursive psychology and conversation analysis. The analysis highlighted that children's food likes and dislikes were treated differently by their parents. While likes were routinely not responded to, agreed with or further elaborated, dislikes were predominantly oriented to as food refusals or treated as inappropriate, or non-genuine claims. Children's food assessments, i.e., likes and dislikes, were often disattended by parents when they appeared to be food preference displays. By contrast, assessments that accomplished social actions like refusals and complaints were more often responded to. The analysis also revealed the importance of distinguishing between assessments about food items in general, that were not currently being eaten, and assessments of food eaten here-and-now. All in all, the study evidences that and how assessment sequences open up interactional spaces where children and parents orient to and negotiate relative rights and responsibilities to know, to assess and to accomplish specific actions. Implications for food preference research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105853
JournalAppetite
Volume170
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Assessments
  • Conversation analysis
  • Discursive psychology
  • Family mealtimes
  • Food liking
  • Low socioeconomic position

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