Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: The impact of childhood obesity discourses on domestic and reproductive labour for single mothers in Northeastern Ontario : an institutional ethnographic study
Authors: O’Gorman, Laurel
Keywords: childhood obesity;critical fat studies;institutional ethnography;mothering;domestic and reproductive labour;weight stigma
Issue Date: 24-Aug-2018
Abstract: Rationale: The term “healthy children” is often used to describe children whose weights are within a socially acceptable range which conflates health with thinness, often completely overlooking other aspects of health and employing body-stigmatizing language about children. Research Questions: 1. How do single mothers who live in poverty in Northeastern Ontario define good health for their children? What role do considerations of obesity play in their definition of good health? 2. What are the implications of participants understanding of health on their domestic and reproductive labour? 3. How are these experiences mediated by the families’ social location? Theory: Institutional ethnography (IE) is a theory and a method. IE investigates the coordination of ideologies that shape people’s experiences. Institutions made up primarily of government bodies and medical experts shape how childhood obesity is discussed in schools, the media, and in everyday life, impacting how we understand and speak about children’s bodies. This includes the amount and types of work expected of parents (primarily mothers) as well as the implications for bodies that do not meet the standard deemed acceptable in a particular time and place. Method: The research participants were twenty women residing in Northeastern Ontario who self-identify as a single mother living in poverty. I used two methods of data collection: interviews and guided tours of key areas impacting children’s health, such as grocery stores or places children play. Analysis: I analysed the interviews and the interactions between participants and their environment using an institutional ethnographic approach to coding. The aim of the analysis is to link the everyday lived experiences of research participants to the ruling relations in which they are shaped. Results: Participants talked about children’s health in ways that were consistent with obesity discourses. When I asked what the term healthy child meant to them, the first response was usually ‘food’ followed by ‘physical activity’. Mothers described a great deal of work that went into trying to make decisions that they felt were healthy. However, they also described many barriers to providing the types of healthy foods and activities they would like to provide for their children.
Appears in Collections:Doctoral Theses
Rural and Northern Health - Doctoral theses

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
OGorman_DissertationFinal.pdf1.08 MBAdobe PDFThumbnail

Items in LU|ZONE|UL are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.