Unequal foodwork: Situating the sociology of feeding within diet and nutrition disparities

Priya Fielding-Singh, Merin Oleschuk

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Widespread inequities in diet and nutrition present a pressing public health problem. Sociologists working to illuminate the causes and contours of these inequities often center the role of family foodwork, or the multifaceted domestic labor that supports eating, including planning and preparing meals. Mounting sociological scholarship on foodwork considers how food's meanings are socially patterned to reflect broader social structures, ideologies and institutions that influence their manifestation and families' resources to enact them. Here, we present three core contributions from the sociology of foodwork that can advance essential transdisciplinary conversations around nutrition disparities as well as efforts to tackle these disparities. We lay out how (1) family foodwork is historically rooted in broader structures of capitalist exploitation and women's subordination, and today remains gendered through normative discourses equating “good” feeding with “good” mothering; (2) the moralization of foodwork is buttressed by an ideological context idealizing homecooked meals and lamenting foodwork's decline, and; (3) foodwork—and societal evaluations of it—are shaped and stratified by intersecting gendered, classed, and racial inequalities. After reviewing each contribution and its importance for addressing nutrition inequities, we conclude by advocating for a closer conversation across disciplines and highlighting important future directions for sociologists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13067
JournalSociology Compass
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • families
  • foodwork
  • gender
  • health
  • inequality
  • nutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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