My current research project (Im)moderation in everyday food consumption: A study of the content and construction of ethical lives in the context of affluent society (2018-2021) explores the content and construction of ethical lives of ordinary people by asking what they consider to be moderate with regards to food consumption and by analysing how they construct these views. The contemporary food system routinely produces more food than we are able to consume. At the same time, social stratification is nowhere more apparent than in foodways, yet in the affluent societies even the poorest consume unsustainably. In the midst of this ambiguity, we are constantly invited to exhibit our identity, personality and values through our food choices.
Moderation is a concept that addresses the question of a right or a proper amount. The question of what is adequate, suitable, sufficient or reasonable with regard to food consumption has been essential for ages, but the ways of answering the question have altered in different times and different societal contexts. Moderation can be seen as a qualitative quantity measure that is highly situational and substantially ethically laden. The study analyses how ordinary people discuss, make sense of and ground their foodways, with a specific focus on 1) how and to what degree the question of moderation is present in people’s accounts of their everyday foodways, 2) how people understand and make sense of what is moderate with regards to food, and 3) how these meanings are created, grounded, negotiated, contested and challenged through practices and in interaction. The study is funded by the Academy of Finland and conducted in the Tampere University.
Presentation: (Im)moderation in everyday food consumption (inFinnish)
My PhD project Food for the soul or the soul for food : Users’ perspectives on religiously affiliated food charity in a Finnish city explored charitable food assistance at the interface between religious organizations and people seeking material assistance. The study aimed at understanding the phenomenon from the viewpoint of the food recipients and by taking into account the religious character of the food providers. The findings of this study portray food assistance as a charitable sphere where assistance is provided only within the available resources, which are disengaged from the needs of the food recipients, and within the terms laid down by the charitable giver, which may include to varying degrees religious participation. The findings demonstrate that food charity has a limited ability to answer the social and material needs of the clients. The additional religious support that some of these organizations offered provided added value for some of the food recipients, but also caused tensions. The recipients of food charity have limited opportunities to influence the activity or to act in a different way, but at the same time their ability to withdraw from participating in the activity is limited. Negotiations over participation in religious activities in the food charity context illustrate these constraints, but also point out the tacit strategies used by the food recipients to voice their views. The study was funded by the Doctoral Programme of Theology (2012-2015) and the project Cooperation in Care (2016-2018) in the University of Helsinki.
In addition to these projects, I have studied food aid providers’ views of their work in the era of institutionalized food charity in Toronto, Canada, wellbeing and trust among the clients of Christian addiction care in Finland, and the Finnish self-help book readers’ experiences of reading therapeutic literature.