The conceptual separation of food and animals in childhood

Kate Stewart, Matthew Cole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Nonhuman animals are primarily defined according to their form of relation with human beings, which broadly depends on the perceived utility of those animals to humans. These relations may be analyzed to generate typologies, membership of which circumscribes the probable fate of nonhuman animals when they enter into contact with humans. However, these judgments of utility and category membership are contingent and socially constructed, as demonstrated by cultural and historical variability in the species and individual animals assigned to particular types.This paper explores how the combination of childhood literary and film traditions relating to animals and associated promotional food tie-ins aimed at children contribute to a food socialization process whereby children learn to conceptually distance the animals they eat from those with whom they have an emotional bond or for whom they feel ethically responsible. In so doing, we develop a theoretical scheme for the differentiated positioning of animals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-476
Number of pages20
JournalFood, Culture and Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009

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