The impact of food consumption patterns on identity: the case of Zimbabwean inbetweeners living in the UK
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AbstractThis study explores the concept of identity construction through food as exhibited by Zimbabwean inbetweener migrants in the UK. Literature was explored in relation to national identity, migration, consumer culture theory, consumer acculturation, diaspora theory, memory and nostalgia and food consumption and identity. The study used a qualitative research approach to address the issues under investigation. Interviews were used to collect data based on the understanding that food patterns and identity construction are context driven. The findings indicate that the food experiences of the Zimbabwean inbetweeners were specific to this group. Their food consumption patterns were found to be multi-dimensional. The thesis brings to the fore too, the dynamism of identity and food consumption practices. The food acculturation practices of the Zimbabwean inbetweener migrants showed three consumer acculturation strategies - rejection, adaptation and separation. These were chosen in response to the various challenges and environmental influences they had encountered as they settled in the UK. In the construction of a national identity in the UK, access to Zimbabwean foods, economic independence, the importance of family and the structured nature of British schools influenced how identity was expressed and constructed. The findings showed that food is a tool that the respondents used to contruct their identity, to develop and maintain relationships with family, friends, communities and general diasporan relationships. The respondents also indicated the importance of eating out and the tensions they experienced in different restaurants that presented themselves as ‘authentic’. Various contested identities were formed depending on the ‘authenticity’ strategy adopted in the ethnic restaurants. These ‘authenticity’ strategies focussed on purity, hybridity, concreteness and abstract. The study contributes to consumer culture theory by engaging in the study of migrant food consumption practices; and to understand how a migrant group, can relate to the operation and marketing of ethnic restaurants in the diaspora.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
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