Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN05_03c: Gender and consumption
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Terhi-Anna Wilska, University of Jyväskylä
Location: BS.G.36
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Ground Floor Oxford Road

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Using The Menstrual Cup. How Different Intimate Materialities Afford Different Socio-Cultural Experiences Of Menstruation.

Signe Banke, Ian Woodward

University of Southern Denmark, Denmark

Based on a qualitative, ethnographic study we explore the embodied practices of using a menstrual cup. We find that the cup’s material qualities and practical affordances allow users opportunities to renegotiate the cultural performance of menstruation. As experienced by the women in the study socially conditioned menstrual etiquette prescribes women to hide their period, yet pads and tampons often fail to satisfy this requirement. Moreover, for some women, they can promote feelings of disgust, alienating the women from their own body and period, triggering gendered social stigma. Differently, for reported reasons of effectiveness, comfort and practicality, the menstrual cup enables a ‘successful’ cultural performance of menstrual etiquette. Importantly, the cup as a material technology also affords a renegotiation of the meaning of menstruation, as women reported no longer feeling distanced or disgusted from their bodies during menstruation. Findings are based on a 9 month ethnographic fieldwork study in Denmark comprising more than 50 interviews with 23 women, combining in-depth interviews and a personal diary with both users and non-users of the menstrual cup, and an additional observation and interview component with 8 companies and experts. The paper suggests that the fundamental material-semiotic differences between conventional cotton products and the reusable medical silicone cup is the key to understanding how women differently experience and culturally perform menstruation. The paper theorises how intimate embodied technologies not only enable women to satisfy menstrual etiquette, but also enables them to question these and redefine aspects of menstruation.

Imagining ‘Good’ Sustainable Consumption: On Gender Normativities in Zero Waste Blogs

Mandy de Wilde, Sarah Parry

University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Societies are currently transitioning to sustainable ways of consuming. More specifically, the zero waste transition looks beyond the current take-make-dispose extractive industrial model and aims to redefine products and services to design waste out. Having started as a zero waste movement around the millennium, and becoming institutionalised by means of circular economy-programs, zero waste living is now transforming into a popular consumer lifestyle in accordance with the exponential growth of zero waste blogs in the past five years. On the basis of a content and discourse analysis of today’s most influential zero waste blogs we show which technologies (i.e. unpaper towels, beewax wraps, low-flow appliances) and practices (i.e. cooking, cleaning, household organising) are predominantly imagined in these blogs. Doing so, we demonstrate that a particular notion of ‘good’ zero waste living is portrayed that intersects with gender normativities – in terms of time-intensity, the type of manual labour and direct engagement it asks rom sustainable consumers. We find the reproduction of gender normativities through this sustainable consumer lifestyle troubling. Instead, we argue that transitioning to sustainable ways of consuming must simultaneously progress a gender politics organised around issues of fairness and equality.

Transgressing Traditional and Neo-liberal Expectations as well: Non-compliant Maternal Food Choices in the Italian Foodscape

Sebastiano Benasso, Luisa Stagi

University of Genoa, Italy

The paper focuses on mother blaming in relation to non-compliant maternal consumption choices in children feeding. We thus the explore the processes of cultural stigmatization of mothers due to the supposed inadequate and/or deviant behaviors of their children towards food. In a context such as the Italian society, where the gender balancing of the family duties is still strongly uneven, the mothers are indeed considered the main responsible for the “correct” physical and social development of their sons and daughters, and the food choices plays a crucial role in the evaluation of the maternal performances. In order to observe dynamics of mother blaming, we take into account two different targets: the mothers of fat children and the mothers who adopt vegan or vegetarian diets for their offspring. Indeed, they both tend to be blamed for not complying with the mandates of the mainstream nutritional sciences (which in the neo-liberal societies play a pivotal role in the bio-political agenda), as well as for not reproducing the traditional Italian maternal foodwork model. As a consequence, by transgressing their charge of control and protections of their children’s bodies, they end up being considered “improper citizens”. Drawing on an empirical research carried out in the Northern Italy, we analyze the representations and the discursive strategies which inform the mother blaming about foodwork.

Alcohol Consumption: Socio-environmental Context and Identity of Male Gender

Almane Pakrijauskaite

Vytautas Magnus university, Lithuania

In modern society, alcohol consumption is part of culture associated with a sense of pleasure, stress and anxiety, but at the same time an unwanted form of harmful behavior with many negative consequences (diseases, accidents, violence, crime, health risks, etc.). For these reasons, the use of alcohol in scientific discourse is studied in various ways. This paper introduces to the Socio-environmental Context Model (SECM) (Ward 2011), which is based on the widely used Theory of Social Norms. SECM allows identifying the environmental impact of alcohol consumption and social norms related to it. Social norms are distinguished into two types: injunctive norms (acceptance of behavior in a particular group) and descriptive norms (behavior specific to a particular group). The influence of the various environmental factors identified by SECM is revealed in four dimensions: physical-geographical, temporal, social and personal-historical, which interacts simultaneously. Other aspects of religion, social and economic status, and the formation of an individual's gender identity can be easily integrated into SECM. Therefore, this paper aims to further expand approach to social norms by including a personal identity factor. Personal identity, especially for men, can be an essential part of alcohol consumption. The purpose of this paper is to construct a theoretical model based on SECM and the theoretical approaches of male identity, which would allow revealing a more comprehensive approach through various aspects of the environment and male identity.

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