PhD Candidate Merin Oleshuk, in collaboration with Professors Josée Johnston and Shyon Baumann, on “Maintaining Meat: Cultural Repertoires and the Meat Paradox in a Diverse Socio-Cultural Context”

PhD Candidate Merin Oleshuk, in collaboration with Professors Josée Johnston and Shyon Baumann,  published an article in Sociological Forum, entitled “Maintaining Meat: Cultural Repertoires and the Meat Paradox in a Diverse Socio-Cultural Context.” This article examines Canadian meat eaters and vegetarians within the context of “cultural repertoires” regarding meat eating. The authors distinguish between two types of repertoires: identity repertoires and liberty repertoires and analyze how they function in different ways, arguing that “the meanings attributed to meat consumption are crucial for understanding its persistence in the face of strong reasons to change”.

Merin Oleschuk is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto studying the impact of social inequalities on food consumption. She believes that food is a material lens for considering how and why we use taste to create bonds and preserve boundaries among those around us. Her dissertation and current work examine the values and practices around home cooking and the meaning of cooking based on social positions.

Josée Johnston is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto and specializes in the sociological study of food. Her research interests lie at the intersection of culture, politics, gender and the environment. Her research and teaching areas include the sociology of food, consumer culture, gender, environmental sociology, political sociology, and critical theory.

Shyon Baumann is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto and specializes in the sociological study of the media, culture, and the arts. His research centres on several key concepts, those of evaluation, legitimacy, status, cultural schemas, and inequality. He is currently engaged in a collaborative project with Josée Johnston on the political dimensions of food consumption and together they are beginning to investigate the ways that consumers think about buying and eating different kinds of meat.

We have included the citation and the abstract of the article below. The full text is available here.

Oleschuk, Merin, Josée Johnston and Shyon Baumann. 2019. “Maintaining Meat: Cultural Repertoires and the Meat Paradox in a Diverse Socio-Cultural Context.” Sociological Forum 34(2): 337-360.

Despite rising concerns about the meat industry and animal slaughter, meat consumption in Europe and North America remains relatively high, what has been called the “meat paradox.” In this article, we examine a diverse sample of Canadian meat eaters and vegetarians to build on earlier work on the psychological strategies people employ to justify eating meat. We analyze the explanations people give for meat eating within the context of what sociologists term cultural repertoires—the taken‐for‐granted, unarticulated scripts that inform actions. We distinguish between two types of repertoires: identity repertoires that have a basis in personal, embodied group identities and regularly draw from vivid first‐person experiences; and liberty repertoires that are more abstractly conceptualized and signal peoples’ sense of their rights in social space. We find that these repertoires function in distinct ways, both in regard to how participants situated themselves within them, and in their capacity to facilitate active engagement with the ethical implications of conduct. Through these repertoires, we show how the meanings attributed to meat consumption are crucial for understanding its persistence in the face of strong reasons to change, while also advancing literature on cultural repertoires by highlighting their variability.