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The notion of precarity is increasingly relevant to health. For public health and food policy, this can be framed as precarity around the social determinants of health leading to particular subjectivities and materialities of poverty and deprivation. In which case, the lived experiences of dietary health inequalities, including food poverty, the use of food banks, and interactions with obesogenic food environments, can be understood as symptomatic of this precarity.
The coronavirus pandemic has amplified precarity around the social determinants of health for vulnerable groups. The economic shock resulting from measures to contain the spread of the virus has created further vulnerability and precarity among people from a gradient of socioeconomic groups that are now struggling to cope. This is very much apparent in the difficulty experienced by people from a range of backgrounds, but most especially those on low incomes, in feeding themselves and their families in a consistent, socially acceptable, and healthy way during the lockdown.
The current crisis has also highlighted gaps in provision and co-ordination, fragmentation, and the extent to which – in the absence of alternative provision and support - the third sector is being relied upon to feed people. The pandemic will likely serve to accelerate and deepen current trends in the relationship between food, precarity and poverty.
This is a concern because chronic and long-term precarity around the social determinants of health deprioritises self-care and health-related behaviours, especially dietary practices. Therefore, we must exercise renewed caution in relation to behavioural interventions and efforts to foster ‘resilience’ to unhealthy food environments. This presentation will draw upon research on food practices in low-income neighbourhoods to explore how the notion of precarity can be used to frame dietary inequalities.
About the speaker
Claire is a qualitative researcher with interests in food poverty, urban inequalities, welfare reform, regeneration, and food and alcohol environments. After completing an ESRC-funded PhD in Human Geography at Queen Mary University of London and an MA in the Social Sciences with the Open University, she went on to work at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and, during that time, undertook a Wellcome Trust Society and Ethics fellowship - Understanding the health and wellbeing challenges of UK food poverty and food aid: a qualitative study. Claire is now a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Hertfordshire and working for Wendy Wills on the NIHR-funded Applied Research Collaboration for the East of England. She also works with various Local Authorities in the UK on developing Food Poverty Action Plans (FPAPs) and organises stakeholder events to bring local organisations together.
The talk will be followed by an online Q&A session chaired by Professor Corinna Hawkes.
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When and where
5.15pm - 6.45pmTuesday 16th June 2020