University of Edinburgh Business School


Overall this study seeks to build an understanding of the dynamic and fluid notion of ‘family’ over a historical period, recognising and acknowledging the political and sociocultural contexts shaping these impressions and perceptions. It contributes towards understanding how social values and popular beliefs around ‘family’ have been shaped.

By looking at shifting discourses around family using the key discursive thread of food and eating in Australia and the UK the study provides an insight into family forms and representations since 1950. Specifically, the study investigates and compares the discourses being articulated around the messages/images of family, food, and consumption communicated via popular culture in Australia and the United Kingdom. This cross-national approach will allow us to identify commonalities and differences between the countries in the marketing and popular media discourses over the period and to relate these to the particular sociocultural contexts.

Specific aims were:

  1. To establish a dataset of advertisements and messages to consumers from two popular women’s magazines (Australian Women’s Weekly and UK Good Housekeeping).
  2. To apply visual discourse analysis to the dataset to (a) analyse the site of the discourse itself (visual image, text, etc) and (b) analyse the site of production (i.e. social institutions) of the discourse in order to elicit the themes which constitute the discourses in the social construction of food, lifestyle and consumption in the context of family.
  3. To achieve a broader perspective on power and knowledge and how it is produced and disseminated through specific media discourses around the family.
  4. To extend the collective understanding on consumption/culture/media and discursive practices as they operate in different sociocultural contexts and across time and to clarify the process of the production of cultural meaning, with specific reference to debates about lifestyle and consumption practices.
  5. To establish and facilitate research synergy and knowledge sharing among an international network of researchers.