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Paradox, performance and food: managing difference in the construction of femininity

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2014
<mark>Journal</mark>Consumption, Markets and Culture
Issue number4
Volume17
Number of pages25
Pages (from-to)367-391
Publication statusPublished
Early online date2/01/14
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This paper explores the personal and interpersonal complexities of women’s’ food-related behaviours. Drawing from the postmodern concept of paradoxical juxtapositions, the authors examine women’s discourses around food, cooking and eating to discuss the embedded negotiations of tensions arising from maintaining hetero-normative femininities while accounting for their own personal and social subjectivities. Data were collected through a series of semi-structured interviews with 45 women. Moving across the analyses, identity complexity plays out for women through the simultaneous presence of strain and gratification in their performance as “caregivers” and an ongoing dialectic of ascetism/discipline and hedonism/transgression in their food-lives. We argue women work to construct desirable experiences and self-identifications from balancing an assemblage of constituent food behaviours across different settings. Our analysis highlights the continuing presence of postmodern paradox as an important theoretical consideration and contributes to our understanding of how femininity is skilfully performed through the management of difference.