The Cartography of the Grocery List: Embodying Public and Private Spheres

Dr. Raewyn Bassett,
Dr. Brenda Beagan,
Dr. Gwen Chapman
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In a qualitative study examining how decisions are made about food choices and food work in 40 families in the provinces of Nova Scotia and British Columbia in Canada, we found the grocery list to be pivotal between private and public spheres. The grocery list is held both in hand and in mind, mapping out on the one hand, the family menu for the next week and on the other hand, the floor plan of the grocery store. It is predominantly women who do the shopping, more often than not using a grocery list written in a variety of hands representing the contributions of family members. At the same time, a grocery list is held in memory, of items regularly bought, or items needed and not on the physical list.

Grocery shoppers have in mind a plan of the week’s menu, while a few women determine the week’s meals from food purchased. In addition, the list maps the floor plan of the grocery store. The grocery list is often written according to the layout of the store by aisle item and in the order aisles are to be found in the store. We will present the results of the Family Food Study, illustrating the importance of the grocery list for making sense of place(s) as an embodied cartography of family, home and grocery store.

Keywords: Grocery List, Public Sphere, Private Sphere, Embodied, Cartography
Stream: Sociology and Geography
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Dr. Raewyn Bassett

Research Associate, School of Occupational Therapy, Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Dr. Raewyn Bassett is a Research Associate in the School of Occupational Therapy, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. A sociologist, her academic interests include the sociology of health and illness (particularly aging and memory), environmental sociology, and the sociology of place. Health, memory, environment, and place are brought together in her current project, an analysis of the decisions families make about food in relation to purchasing, preparation, meals and clean-up.

Dr. Brenda Beagan

Associate Professor, School of Occupational Therapy, Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Dr. Gwen Chapman

Associate Professor, School of Family & Nutritional Sciences, University of British Columbia
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Ref: I06P0142