Food in an Australian primary school curriculum : a critical sociological study

Sanderson, Donald Mark (2013) Food in an Australian primary school curriculum : a critical sociological study. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Food is a multidimensional construct. It has social, cultural, economic, psychological, emotional, biological, and political dimensions. It is both a material object and a catalyst for a range of social and cultural action. Richly implicated in the social and cultural milieu, food is a central marker of culture and society. Yet little is known about the messages and knowledges in the school curriculum about food. Popular debates around food in schools are largely connected with biomedical issues of obesity, exercise and nutrition.

This is a study of the sociological dimensions of food-related messages, practices and knowledge formations in the primary school curriculum. It uses an exploratory, qualitative case study methodology to identify and examine the food activities of a Year 5 class in a Queensland school. Data was gathered over a twoyear period using observation, documentation and interviews methods.

Food was found to be an integral part of the primary school's activity. It had economic, symbolic, pedagogic, and instrumental value. Messages about food were found in the official, enacted and hidden curricular which were framed by a food governance framework of legislation, procedures and norms. In the school studied, food knowledge was commodified as a part of a political economy that centred on an 'eat more' message. Certain foods were privileged over others while myths about energy, fruit, fruit juice and sugar shaped student dispositions, values, norms and action. There was little engagement with the cognitive and behavioural dimensions of food and nutrition. The thesis concludes with recommendations for a whole scale reconsideration of food in schools as curricular content and knowledge.

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ID Code: 63618
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Kapitzke, Cushla, Luke, Allan, & Spelta, Robert
Keywords: critical theory, curriculum, enacted curriculum, food, hegemony, hidden curriculum, ideology, knowledge, official curriculum, political economy, schooling
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 22 Oct 2013 01:11
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2015 03:59

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