Accepted Paper:

"They should learn how to eat in a normal way": struggles over food habits of the future generation in Poland  


Zofia Boni (Adam Mickiewicz University)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on ethnographic research in Warsaw, this paper discusses attempts to create “good” future citizens in Poland with the means of food, by governing parents in their feeding practices and children in their eating practices; and how people appropriate these influences in their everyday lives.

Paper long abstract:

Parents and children in Poland have not been managed before on such a scale and so intensely with the means of food as today. Different groups of adults want to shape the future generation and feed children in particular way to make them into particular eaters. If children eat in the "right" way, this means that their parents are good and proper parents. But it also means that teachers have fulfilled their responsibilities; that the state has healthy citizens and lowers the health costs arising from "bad" food habits; and that the food industry has created "good" consumers and food companies have loyal customers. However, the ideas of what is "right" and what constitutes the "good" food habits often differ between these groups and within them. Moreover, both parents and children appropriate these influences in their own ways.

This paper draws on 12 months of ethnographic research conducted in Warsaw in 2012 - 2013, which included studying working class and middle class families, primary schools, state institutions, market agencies, non-governmental organisations and media. By discussing few examples from my fieldwork, I show how food is used to govern and mould people, and how people who are being governed react to and appropriate these influences in their daily practices. Building on food and discipline/governmentality studies, I discuss the current tensions and struggles regarding children's food habits and analyse the broader politics of food, class and food education in Poland.

Panel P115
Raising Europe: managing parents and the production of good citizens