Gender, grocery shopping and the discourse of leisure
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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This feminist study adopts fractured foundationalism to explore the micro-politics of gendered relationships examining the day-to-day lives of ordinary men and women undertaking grocery shopping. The literature review focuses on the key theories underpinning leisure and shopping, their similarities and interrelationships. Beginning with the leisure literature and its attempts to define the leisure experiences of individuals and the role of leisure in society, it proceeds to discuss the work of key 'malestream' writers who challenge conservative notions of leisure. The importance of the contribution of feminism as an alternative critique of leisure is acknowledged. After exploring supermarket imagery and outlining contemporary trends in UK grocery retailing, the study considers the domestic realm and tensions between the rationality and hedonism of shopping emphasising the gendered frameworks which structure grocery shopping activities. The methodology moves from a functional approach through content analysis and focus groups to the use of diaries, calendars and interviews located within a feminist framework. Content analysis of advertisements of UK grocery retailers and consumer interpretations of promotional messages provide insight into retailers' images of customers and consumer reactions to these. Discussions of grocery shopping through focus groups demonstrated a leisure dimension to grocery shopping. The diaries, calendars and interviews illuminate attitudes and behaviour to grocery shopping, describing who does the shopping, visit frequency, preferred shopping days and the influence of store location. Participants perceive grocery shopping as both work and leisure but located grocery shopping within the wider discourse of leisure. It emerges that the cultural frameworks, which give context to grocery shopping, are significantly shaped in childhood experiences, which reinforce gender issues. The women in this study defined themselves through idealised role images - a perception not echoed by the male participants. The thesis supports the inclusion of grocery shopping in the discourse on gender, power and leisure, illustrating the contribution of feminist methodology to understanding cultural meanings of grocery shopping in the fabric of the everyday lives of ordinary men and women.
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