Professor Lydia Martens: ‘Securing the Future of Food’: What Contributions Can a Sociology of Mundane Consumption Make?
Professor of Sociology
Food security is one of the urgent and complex challenges in the global climate crisis. It is a ‘wicked’ problem that, in important ways, is bound with the social organisation of food production and consumption, a continuing growing global population, questions of justice, soil and ocean health, pollution, water scarcity, and biodiversity loss. In this lecture, I will explore the contribution that the sociology of consumption can make to this problem. A potent contemporary image of climate crisis is rampant consumerism that is quite literally ‘Eating the Earth’, but by laying the blame firmly at the door of mindless consumers, such images tend to simplify the problem. I will challenge the idea that a change in individual behaviour can be effective. First, I illustrate how food is connected to the demands of people’s daily lives and anchored in social conventions and sociotechnological configurations. Second, I argue that food, cooking, and eating are emotionally significant in intimate family life, while subject to multiple and often contradictory priorities. Finally, I contend that the social organisation of food production and consumption creates distance between people and their food, posing challenges for an ethical awareness of food. I conclude the lecture by highlighting the ways in which these sociological insights can be incorporated into interdisciplinary initiatives to secure the future of food.
Professor Lydia Martens has a national and international reputation in the sociology of consumption, everyday practices, and intimate life: her work has had a significant impact on academic debate and in applied contexts, including working with the UK Food Standards Agency, and is known for its methodological innovations in researching the mundane in domestic life. Prof. Martens currently leads Keele’s transdisciplinary work in the 9.5-million euro EU Horizon 2020 SafeConsume project, as well as new collaborative and interdisciplinary research and capacity building for Secure Food Futures, as part of the Keele Institute for Social Inclusion. In recent years, she has been developing a dialogue between her existing expertise and the climate crisis and, in 2018, she published her most recent book, Childhood and Markets: Infants, Parents and the Business of Child Caring, with Palgrave Macmillan.
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- Westminster Theatre, Chancellor's Building
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- 01782 734036