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Unit information: The Feminist Politics of Food in 2015/16

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Unit name The Feminist Politics of Food
Unit code SPAI30031
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Perrier
Open unit status Open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims


This unit introduces students to the critical study of food and eating from feminist perspectives and explores the relationship between social change, feminism and food. Key to this unit is to enquire into the ways in which women’s special relationship to food and feeding has both been both a form of oppression and power. We discuss the kinds of power relations involved in how we think about food, in how our food is prepared, and in how we come to desire (and shun) the kinds of foods and the kinds of alimentary identities that we do. Our discussion of food will be informed by feminist theories that challenge the distinction between mind/body, public/private and reason/emotion to shed new light on classic debates about the objectification of women’s bodies, the unequal division of household labour, differences between women and women’s competing identities as mothers/workers by emphasizing the affective and sensory dimension of food practices. We consider a range of issues from breastfeeding, eating disorders and dieting, sustainable food production and ecofeminism, food and intimacy, media food culture and the gendered politics of food preparation.


1) To critically analyse the relationship between food, feminism and social change

2) To examine a range of feminist theories and assess their implications for the study of food

3) To critically evaluate how social relationships of feeding and eating are gendered, raced and classed

4) To critically analyse food and eating in a range of empirical contexts

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  • Critically evaluate feminist conceptual approaches to food and eating
  • Apply this theoretical knowledge to analyse the politics of food in a range of empirical contexts and to their own lived experience.
  • Demonstrate critical and detailed knowledge of the role of food and eating in reproducing and challenging gendered and other inequalities

Teaching Information

3 hours of teaching per week as a combination of lectures and seminars.

Assessment Information


Student group research projects


3000 word essay (100%)

The assessments assess all of the intended learning outcomes listed above.

Reading and References

Avakian, A.V. and Haber. B. 2005 ‘From Betty Crocker to Feminist Food studies: Critical Perspectives on Women and Food’

Devault, Marjorie 1994 ‘Feeding the Family: The Social Organization of Caring as Gendered Work’

Probyn, Elspeth. 2001. Carnal appetites: Food, sex, identities. New York: Taylor and Francis.

Aurbach, Susie 1982 ‘Fat is a feminist Issue’

Bordo, S. 2003. Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture and the Body