Sociological theories and food insecurity: A practice theory approach
sociology ERIS/INRA Paris, France
This presentation aims to do a critical presentation of an epidemiological tool designed to study food consumption and make some recommendations issued from an empirical qualitative study (precarious people interviewed in Paris and suburbsand 3000 quantitative qestionnaires in the same area).
Food security is a conceptual and analytical concept used to identify households which have high economical constraints to food consumption applied to big samples in the US and Canada. According to FAO´s, Rome declaration on world food security, "Food security exists when people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutrition food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life". This concept has evolved including new dimensions. Three main conceptual developments can be identified: a shift from using measures of food availability and utilization to measure "inadequate access", a shift from a focus on objective to subjective measures and a growing emphasis on fundamental measurement as opposed to reliance on distal, proxy measures (Weed et all:2006).
Sociological approach, inspired in theories of practice can contribute to improve this tool of measurement. It seems imperative to consider individuals or households as more than biological entities or "consumers" (Warde) but to understand food consumption as a social practice with strong influence in everyday life, wellbeing, social integration and participation into society (Bordieu). Include new dimensions of food insecurity emerged from qualitative studies and not considered yet as part of food insecurity. Giving a sociological depth to the concept can enlarge the population considered as food insecure and not only limit it to households having economical constraints but also stress, lack of time or absence psychological disposition to food practices investment. The food insecurity questionnaire made by 18 questions is focussed on budget and household, hiding inequalities related to food access and also different degrees of constraint. Secondly, inequalities at the individual level should be also studied, even if the food consumption unit is the household some studies begin to point the inequalities among members of the same households (adults/children, women/men, active/unemployed, i.e.).