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dc.contributor.authorRichardson, Abigail Lynne
dc.description.abstractThis dissertation investigates the relations of culture, self, and agency through the examination of womenÕs decisions about eating strategies. Eating strategies are a form of bodywork that transforms and/or maintains the body through eating practices, such as dieting and healthy eating. To understand these eating strategies, the author interviewed forty Black and White women and analyzed the data using grounded theory methods and computer-aided qualitative data analysis software. Chapter Three examines how women respond to the increasing focus on health in the risk society. In this context, the ambiguity and complexity of health advice encourages individuals to consider all experts as ÒdubiousÓ and subject to evaluation, both in the content of the advice and the qualifications of the claims-maker. In this evaluation, individuals relay in three forms of local knowledge: Collective local knowledge, Personal knowledge, and Embodied knowledge. Chapter Four considers a synthesis between the theory of Possible Selves developed by Markus and Nurius (1986) and the theory of types of agency developed by Hitlin and Elder (2007). The author argues for an adjustment of the theory of possible selves to distinguish between likely selves and hypothetical selves and describes two likely selves held by the women interviewed: the healthy self and the overweight self. Likely selves such as these provide motivation to action, but differences in agentic capacity differentiate the types of agency enacted. While all actors can enact Existential Agency, only a select few can plan and carry out Life Course Agency. Chapter Five describes four eating strategies enacted by the women interviewed and applies the theoretical framework developed in the previous chapter. The author observes four eating strategies observed among the women interviewed include the Standard American Eating Pattern, Dieting, and two types of Healthy Eating, which are distinguished by level of sophistication in the practice. Comprehensive Healthy Eating involves a well-rounded variety of healthy eating practices, while Simplistic Healthy Eating utilizes only one or two dimensions of healthy eating. Both Dieting and Simplistic Healthy Eating are examples of Existential Agency, whereas Comprehensive Healthy Eating is an example of Life Course Agency.
dc.subjectEating Strategy
dc.subjectHealthy Eating
dc.subjectPossible Selves
dc.subjectQualitative Interviews
dc.subjectLife Course
dc.titleTo diet or to eat (healthy)
dc.title.alternativeculture, selves, and eating strategies
dc.description.advisorJames J, Dowd
dc.description.committeeJames J, Dowd
dc.description.committeeLeigh Willis
dc.description.committeeLinda Grant

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