Food and Relationships: Children’s Experiences in Residential Care

Part of the Studies in Childhood and Youth book series (SCY)


Children’s access to food, and the negotiations that take place around it, extend beyond the realm of immediate family relations to children’s social and educational worlds. Food can thus play an essential part in their experience of other social and institutional arenas such as schools, hospitals or residential care. Food is both an essential and mundane part of everyday life and our familiarity with it can mean that we often pay little attention to the meanings and actions that surround it. However, the study of food within institutional contexts can offer a fascinating insight into the inner life of the institution and the relationships that can revolve around food practices. Food, we suggest, works not only functionally, as sustenance, but also symbolically and as a way to show care and build relationships. It becomes a means by which children can navigate through much of their daily life. Food practices can also be sites of tension and conflict around which a range of emotions and the multifaceted nature of relationships may be exposed.


Focus Group Everyday Life Young Person Residential Care Relationship Building 
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© Samantha Punch, Ian McIntosh, Ruth Emond, Nika Dorrer 2009

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