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Fraught cuisine: food scares and the modulation of anxieties

Journal article
Authors Richard Milne
Jakob Wenzer
Helene Brembeck
Maria Brodin
Published in Distinktion: Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory
Volume 12
Issue 2
Pages 177-192
ISSN 1600-910X
Publication year 2011
Published at Department of Cultural Sciences
Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI)
Centre for Consumer Science
Pages 177-192
Language en
Keywords affect, anxiety, fear, food, food scares, manipulation, modulation
Subject categories Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


This paper explores the circulation of contemporary anxieties related to food through an engagement with sociological and geographical work on affect. The paper draws on four case studies of ‘food scares’ in the UK and Sweden to consider the emergence, circulation and expression of food anxieties. It suggests that existing analyses of food anxiety neglect its affective dimensions, and that the circulation of concerns about food is an affective and embodied process as well as a cognitive one, taking place through encounters between heterogeneous bodies at a range of temporal and spatial scales. However, it argues that the movement of affect should not be considered as a linear ‘manipulation’ of mute subjects, but rather as a circulation of affective intensity that moves through heterogeneous milieux and is open to ‘modulation’. In contrast to manipulation, the modulation of affect is constituted through interactions and encounters, making its outcome unpredictable and uncertain.

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