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Sociology: Research


In the (double) Mirror Darkly: Narratives of the healthy eating online self

In the (double) Mirror Darkly: Narratives of the healthy eating online self
Speaker: Prof Teresa Davis # University of Sydney, Australia
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Date and Time
16th Nov 2017 12:30 - 16th Nov 2017 14:00
Lecture Theatre 4, University of Edinburgh Business School, 29 Buccleuch Pl, Edinburgh EH8 9JS

The ‘Healthy Self' is a presentation of identity that encapsulates the merging of societal expectations of the youthful, disease free body, with the increasing desire to present the self online. 

This work examines ‘healthy self' narratives presented by individuals when posting images of health, especially of food consumed and exercise on social media. We begin by examining the data using  the five dimensions of Belk's Digital Extended Self (2013) to the textual and visual narratives. 

In doing so, we highlight differences in individual 'healthy eating  self' narratives across a sample of people aged 18-24 and 40-65. The narratives reveal the careful ‘curation' of the displayed digital healthy self. The symbiotic nature of posting practices identified are explained as legitimising the online display of the healthy body and lifestyle, with the desired effect of further motivating engagements in actual healthy behaviour. 

In discursively examining the visual and textual narratives beyond the body aesthetic, we begin to see the emergence of the 'optical model of the ideals of the person' ( Lacan 1932).A 'misrecognition' of the fragmented experience of the consuming body to a unified reflection of the healthy whole is clearly seen in these narratives.

Speaker biography:

Teresa is Associate Professor Of Marketing at the University of Sydney Business School. Her main research interests lie in two areas. The first is in children as consumers, of particular interest is the relationship between advertising and marketing of food. her latest projects examine this relationship in context of the digital space. The second area is culture and consumption where her interests lies in examining 'cultures of transition' such as consumption of/in childhood and migrant groups. Related areas of research include the historical analyses of culture and consumption.

Teresa has published articles in European Journal of Marketing, Sociology, Marketing Theory,Journal of Marketing Management, Consumption Markets and Culture and others.

Teresa is a co- recipient of an International Research Network Grant Leverhulme Trust (UK) grant for 2011-2012 (with David Marshall University of Edinburgh and others), titled Discursive Families: Comparison of Magazine advertising in two countries. She is currently visiting as part of The Family that eats together: Images of commensality across two cities project(The University of Sydney – University of Edinburgh Partnership Collaboration Award grant). She is a member of the Steering Committee of the University of Sydney's Food and Nutrition Network.Teresa is also co-founder and  Co-Convenor of the Australian Food, Culture and Society Network.