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Risk Stories In the Media: Food consumption, risk and anxiety

Journal article
Authors Maria Fuentes
Christian Fuentes
Published in Food, Culture and Society: An International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research
Volume 18
Issue 1
Pages 71-87
ISSN 1552-8014
Publication year 2015
Published at Centre for Retailing
Centre for Business in Society
Centre for Consumer Science
Pages 71-87
Language en
Keywords food consumption, risk, anxiety, food scares, media, narrative
Subject categories Business Administration, Sociology


Although media-fueled food scares are often described as linked to consumers' food anxieties, previous studies of food consumption have failed to explore fully how food-scare reports add to consumers' anxieties. Using a relational theory of risk and a narrative approach, this article highlights how food-scare reports, through various risk accounts, create anxiety-inducing stories where consumers are appointed as handlers of conflicting food risks. Based on material collected from a 2009 Swedish food scare, the article suggests that food-scare reports construct multiple conflicting risks. The analysis also shows that news reports make consumers responsible for handling these risks and, in addition, involve conflicting instructions regarding how consumers should handle the risks described. The article concludes that it is the combination of conflicting risks and conflicting prescriptions for handling those risks that feeds consumers' anxieties.

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