Victoria University

"What's in a Lunchbox?": A Story About New Zealand Ideals of Health, Social Class and Ethnicity Told Through Sandwiches and the Children Who Eat Them

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dc.contributor.advisor Trundle, Catherine
dc.contributor.advisor El-Ojeili, Chamsy Rey Vasquez, Carla 2012-11-06T02:30:41Z 2012-11-06T02:30:41Z 2012 2012
dc.description.abstract Through an ethnographic investigation of school lunchboxes, this thesis explores if and how difference and Otherness is understood by children. In three urban New Zealand primary schools I examine how children construct, affirm and/or challenge social inequalities and issues of inclusion by looking at the contents, concepts, narratives and activities related to the consumption and sharing of their lunch food. Literature dedicated to social class (Bourdieu, 1984) and identity (Rikoon, 1982; Stern, 1977) has documented the way in which food is creatively used to reaffirm unity and belonging within minority groups (Camp, 1979; Abrahams & Kalcik, 1978). In contrast to this approach, I review the role of food as a ‘safe space’ (Mercon, 2008: 5) where diversity may be allowed to symbolically exist for the purpose of affirming the unity of the nation state, while ultimately muffling deeper social differences. The thesis thus questions the assumption that food, identity and social cohesion are conceptually linked. My overall argument centres on the “humble” sandwich, which I claim is constructed as the core, dominant component of the lunchbox, mutually constituting nutritional, social class and ethnic tropes, practices and values. I assess the discourses, behaviours and symbolism that historically situates the sandwich as iconicaly or emblematically “Kiwi”, contending that via the creation of a dychotomized system (i.e. healthy, good, skinny, well-behaved, energetic, Kiwi versus junk-food, bad, fat, naughty, sick, Other) children are enculturated into the logics of work and socialized to be compliant with structures of inequality. Thus, while the sandwich appears equally accessible to all, the differences in its production can result in practices of class based distinction (Bourdieu, 1984) and ethnic exclusion (Hage, 2003). However, my analysis also reveals that children are not mere subjects of structure, but that they reproduce, challenge, mediate, and re-shape these discourses and behaviours. en_NZ
dc.language.iso en_NZ
dc.publisher Victoria University of Wellington en_NZ
dc.subject Bourdieu en_NZ
dc.subject Children en_NZ
dc.subject Food en_NZ
dc.title "What's in a Lunchbox?": A Story About New Zealand Ideals of Health, Social Class and Ethnicity Told Through Sandwiches and the Children Who Eat Them en_NZ
dc.type Text en_NZ
vuwschema.contributor.unit School of Social and Cultural Studies en_NZ
vuwschema.subject.marsden 370302 Social and Cultural Anthropology en_NZ
vuwschema.type.vuw Awarded Research Masters Thesis en_NZ Anthropology en_NZ Victoria University of Wellington en_NZ Master's en_NZ Master of Arts en_NZ
vuwschema.subject.anzsrcfor 169999 Studies in Human Society not elsewhere classified en_NZ

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