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The incompatibility of system and lifeworld understandings of food insecurity and the provision of food aid in an English city

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JournalVoluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations
DateAccepted/In press - 27 Jun 2018
DatePublished (current) - 9 Jul 2018
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)1-16
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

We report qualitative findings from a study in a multi-ethnic, multi-faith city with high levels of deprivation. Primary research over 2 years consisted of three focus groups and 18 semi-structured interviews with food insecurity service providers followed by focus groups with 16 White British and Pakistani women in or at risk of food insecurity. We consider food insecurity using Habermas’s distinction between the system and lifeworld. We examine system definitions of the nature of need, approved food choices, the reification of selected skills associated with household management and the imposition of a construct of virtue. While lifeworld truths about food insecurity include understandings of structural causes and recognition that the potential of social solidarity to respond to them exist, they are not engaged with by the system. The gap between system rationalities and the experiential nature of lay knowledge generates individual and collective disempowerment and a corrosive sense of shame.

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© The Author(s) 2018

    Research areas

  • Critical theory, Food aid, Food banks, Food insecurity, Religion

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