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Feeding Roma Families: From Hunger to Inequalities


Šikic Mićanović, Lynette
Feeding Roma Families: From Hunger to Inequalities // The social meaning of food
Budapest, Mađarska, 2015. (predavanje, međunarodna recenzija, pp prezentacija, znanstveni)


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Naslov
Feeding Roma Families: From Hunger to Inequalities

Autori
Šikic Mićanović, Lynette

Vrsta, podvrsta i kategorija rada
Sažeci sa skupova, pp prezentacija, znanstveni

Skup
The social meaning of food

Mjesto i datum
Budapest, Mađarska, 16.-17.06.2015

Vrsta sudjelovanja
Predavanje

Vrsta recenzije
Međunarodna recenzija

Ključne riječi
Feeding; food insecurity; gendered aspects; inequalities; Roma

Sažetak
Food is never 'just food' and its significance can never be purely nutritional (Caplan 1997: 3). Packed with social, cultural and symbolic meanings food is always part of an elaborate symbol system that conveys cultural messages. For instance, where and what we eat, with whom, and at what time of day or night are directly influenced by a variety of everyday factors such as age, gender, social status, ethnicity and income. Succinctly, Bell and Valentine (1997: 3) noted that “every mouthful, every meal, can tell us something about our selves, and about our place in the world.” Likewise, addressing everyday practices associated with food may be central to addressing questions of who we are, as women and men and as members of different social groups. Specifically, feeding may be only one difficult task among many that needs broader explication because as DeVault (1994: 168) notes the differing material bases of households/family groups - connections to wealth and occupation, the resulting amount and stability of cash resources and redistributions of resources all combine to construct quite different conditions for the conduct of household work. She aptly adds that it is an illusion that all families share a similar experience of purchasing and preparing foods (1994: 202) to feed their families. This study focuses on feeding work that is especially more complex, laborious and highly gendered in Roma families in Croatia compared to the majority population. Specifically, Roma families are frequently large and live in substandard housing in settlements with poor infrastructure. Education levels and labour participation rates among the Roma are relatively low which contributes to their social exclusion and discrimination that makes feeding work more complicated. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in five different Roma settlements throughout Croatia, this paper explores how Roma households feed their families and their everyday experiences of food in/security. Specifically, this study is based around in-depth interviews rather than just observations, which provides a different perspective on some of the ways that feeding Roma families relates to gender and its meaning in light of unprecedented financial insecurity that is experienced by many Roma families. Interviews are contextualised within the complex specificities of each particular Roma settlement that has been shaped by a specific history, social/environmental setting and political economy. Further, these interviews do not only give insight on food provisioning/cooking and other related experiences in Roma families but also a rich source of data on the way gender and other social categories such as ethnicity, age, religion and class intersect. This study relies on self-reported food in/security as a better measure of directly capturing how the Roma feel about their immediate situation. Chronic food insecurity is understood as being associated with problems of continuing or structural poverty as well as low incomes. This research attempts to draw attention to Roma expressions of deprivation, uncertainty, or concern over access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food. Statistical findings show that 40% of Roma households cannot afford to eat meat, fish or a protein equivalent every second day. Further, in this analysis, consumption levels: how many meals Roma families are eating each day, how much is being eaten, and with what regularity will be examined. In addition, the quality of food consumed will be considered including the representation of major food groups and extent of reliance on micro-wave/pre-prepared or “junk food” items. Dietary quality in terms of preferences (i.e., are they getting enough of what they want to eat?) and whether their food is obtained from socially acceptable sources (e.g., supermarkets/restaurants vs handouts/rubbish dumps) will also be investigated. Overall results show that the diet for many Roma families is nutritionally insufficient, with serious implications for unhealthy childhoods, chronic adult illnesses and frequently interrupted learning at school. Depending on location, some families are highly dependent on charity, which clearly does not solve the underlying causes of hunger, poverty and inequalities. Interview data also reveals the relationships Roma families have with food and how this association discloses an enormous amount of information about Roma identities, social stigma and isolation. As food is intimately bound up with social relations, including those of power, of inclusion and exclusion (Caplan 1997:3) the gendered aspects of feeding Roma families will be closely explored in this work. Findings show that most of the participants in this study are young, unemployed mothers who breastfeed their children (average number of children is 4.47 in this study) significantly longer than the majority population. Due to early ‘marriage’ and family responsibilities they do not receive much formal education or information on how to provide the best possible care for their children and how to cope with the challenges of caring for their newborns. As a rule, Roma men do not participate in household chores including the preparation and further work around meals that starkly contrasts with other current findings that show that men have increased their participation in household chores including the preparation of meals (see Gershuny, 2000). In this study, although Roma women are solely responsible for all domestic chores including cooking and feeding (daughters are also socialised from an early age into these socially accepted gendered roles) Roma men do control what their families eat. Moreover, other research has shown the increased availability of time-saving technologies (such as microwaves) has led to a significant reduction in the time spent in domestic labour, especially for lower income women (see Heisig 2011). In contrast, research (see Šikić-Mićanović 2005) has shown that Roma fare poorly on measures of well-being with regard to household appliances as well as housing conditions, neighbourhood and community conditions, which make life to a large extent more difficult for Roma girls and women.

Izvorni jezik
Engleski

Znanstvena područja
Etnologija i antropologija



POVEZANOST RADA


Ustanove:
Institut društvenih znanosti Ivo Pilar, Zagreb


Citiraj ovu publikaciju:

Šikic Mićanović, Lynette
Feeding Roma Families: From Hunger to Inequalities // The social meaning of food
Budapest, Mađarska, 2015. (predavanje, međunarodna recenzija, pp prezentacija, znanstveni)
Šikic Mićanović, L. (2015) Feeding Roma Families: From Hunger to Inequalities. U: The social meaning of food.
@article{article, author = {\v{S}ikic Mi\'{c}anovi\'{c}, L.}, year = {2015}, keywords = {Feeding, food insecurity, gendered aspects, inequalities, Roma}, title = {Feeding Roma Families: From Hunger to Inequalities}, keyword = {Feeding, food insecurity, gendered aspects, inequalities, Roma}, publisherplace = {Budapest, Ma\djarska} }
@article{article, author = {\v{S}ikic Mi\'{c}anovi\'{c}, L.}, year = {2015}, keywords = {Feeding, food insecurity, gendered aspects, inequalities, Roma}, title = {Feeding Roma Families: From Hunger to Inequalities}, keyword = {Feeding, food insecurity, gendered aspects, inequalities, Roma}, publisherplace = {Budapest, Ma\djarska} }




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