Food for Thought, Thought for Food: Consumption, Identity, and Ethnography

Ellis, Colter


Article written by Elizabeth Cherry, 2008 DPDF Animal Studies Fellow Colter Ellis, and Michaela DeSoucey, featured in the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Volume 40, No. 2:

Movements associated with lifestyle and consumption politics have gained increasing visibility in society and in sociological research, but scholars’ methodological insights for studying these issues have lagged behind. How might the lifestyles and consumption practices of researchers themselves shape data collection, and how might these movements affect researchers? The authors offer a collaborative, reflexive analysis of their experiences conducting fieldwork on three different consumption movements centered on food production. Building on feminist and symbolic interactionist methodological literature, they show how their own “consumption identities” affected their data collection, analyses, and written work. The authors also discuss how conducting research on consumption and lifestyle movements may also affect researchers’ own identities and practices. They conclude by discussing how their process of “collaborative reflexivity” brings new insight into feminist methodological concerns for reflexivity.