9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN30 Youth and Generation

2009-09-05 13:30:00 2009-09-05 15:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 13:30 - 15:00 Gender and Embodiment Building II, Auditório B2.04

The Doughnut in the Nordic Army. Inner and outer compulsion in the health sense and eating practices of conscripts in Finland

The Defence Forces have been called Finland's biggest training centre according to the official discourse of the finnish army. The period of service - compulsory for finnsh young men, which is very rare in Europe, comparatively - offers a unique opportunity to explore the health sense and eating practices of young men. In addition, the army can be seen also as a social field on which boys are socialised into a certain kind of masculinity.

The experience of the conscripts in a total institution will be studied. Even if the conscript's life is rather controlled by the power system of army, there is a space for the freedom of choice, which is often materialized in the form of pizzas, hamburgers and doughnuts.

In this project, the methods of multi-disciplinary youth research have been applied in the Kainuu Brigade. One aim is to define what the conscript's responsibility is on his own eating practices and health behaviour. Secondly, we ask to what extent life in general and eating practices in the army are defined by outer compulsion (official food supply in the army) and to what extent the conscript bears the consequences of his choices on eating practices? Thirdly, we ask what the significance of the social group context is - including group norms and group control - in the army and in these choices, and what kind of health sense all this reflects? The choice of the Kainuu Brigade as study setting was justified by the garrison's northern location which allows the study of the northern young masculinities as well.

Ethnographic data (field work of several months and 52 thematical inter views) was collected by research team Tommi Hoikkala & Mikko Salasuo (Finnish Youth Research Network) in the Kainuu Brigade during 2008 in order to answer the research questions.