The Capacity for Ethics food practices in Hong Kong

Project: Research project

Project Details

Description

This research seeks to investigate the capacity for ethics in current food practices in Hong Kong.

The current system we use to produce, distribute and consume food has shown itself to be increasingly unsustainable. Broadly speaking, ethical food practices aim to combat the negative effects of industrialized food production and consumption driven by efficiency and profitability. Academic engagement in this area has tended towards policy outcomes such as classification standards (e.g. organic, fair-trade) or consumer behaviour. While this is necessary, the solutions are often reduced to a labelling practice thus limiting the capacity for ethics.

This research extends the scope of understanding in a new direction by focusing on how ethical behaviour is enabled or constrained by the contacts within which food is practiced. The project will look at the way food is bought and sold; how cooking is shared and reciprocated; what are the attitudes towards eating and what networks of relationships in the community are sustained. Ethical practices bring people together and challenge the sense of alienation and individualism promoted by neo-liberalism. The social impact of these practices goes beyond the individual and contributes to creating a more cohesive society.

Four sites of interest have been chosen to represent different models of production and consumption. This includes farmers’ market, wet market, supermarket and a local eatery which grows its own food. Detailed interviews will be conducted with growers and sellers, traders and shoppers, cooks and eaters. Field notes, participant observation, transcripts of interviews will contribute to the main empirical data. The theoretical analysis will draw from philosophy and cultural theory, in particular de Certeau and Lefebvre for their work on everyday life. This will be furthered by Serre’s theory of the parasite as an investigation into the ontology of material practice of food as a generative and constitutive force that exemplifies the capacity of ethics.

The outcomes generated in this project will contribute to the fields of food studies and cultural studies. By extending the theoretical understanding of ethics exemplified through food practices, the results of this project will shed light on questions of sustainable development and social cohesion. This will be beneficial to policy makers and other researchers working in the area. Detailed case studies based in Hong Kong will also provide exposure to the local scene, which is currently absent in the field. This knowledge will be disseminated through conferences, journal articles and book chapters.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date1/01/1431/12/15

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

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