Talking About Food Choices of Former Homeless Young People: Making Sense of Conflicting Discourses of Blame Through Social Worlds Theory

K. Gombert, F. Douglas, K. McArdle, S. Carlisle


After a pilot study at a charitable youth organisation in the North East of Scotland found no considerable improvements in the food choices of former homeless young people accommodated by the organisation (Perry, 2013), the Foodways and Futures project (2013-2016) set out to explore why. Both members of staff at the same organisation as well as young people were invited to voice their views and opinions on the factors influencing young people’s food choices. Whilst everyone’s contribution was considered equally informative for our findings, I was attentive to where the information originated from. In this, I found that three conflicting discourses of blame pervade the participants’ expressions of the rationales underlying young people’s food choices. Trying to make sense of these, I employ Strauss’ Social Worlds Theory (1978). I find that the different discourses of blame make sense in the context of the complex organisational structures. In objecting to a tendency in the literature to assign standardised discourse of blame primarily to youth workers’ practice, these discourses showcase mutual understanding instead.

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International Journal of Contemporary Education

ISSN 2575-3177 (Print)   ISSN 2575-3185 (Online)

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