Experiencing Food Allergy and Food Intolerance: An Analysis of Lay Accounts

Sarah Nettleton, Brian Woods, Roger Burrows, Anne Kerr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article offers an analysis of 28 lay accounts of the experience of living with either food allergy or food intolerance in England. We structure the presentation of our data in terms of Mike Bury's three types of narrative form - contingent, moral and core. We suggest that people with food allergies at risk of acute, severe and potentially fatal symptoms on exposure to allergens find their condition to be less socially problematic than do those who suffer intolerances to certain foods, which can result in chronic, but not life-threatening, symptoms. Drawing on the extant literatures on the sociology of food and eating we propose a conceptualization in relation to notions of identity, anomie and communality that attempts to make sense of this finding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-305
Number of pages17
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010


  • food allergy
  • food intolerance
  • lay accounts

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