Inclusion of the excluded: Consumers’ quest for hedonism in food consumption

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Prior research has shown that practices in aesthetically oriented cultures of consumption are orchestrated by hegemonic taste regimes. Adherence to such regimes may be challenging for some consumers such as those with food intolerances, though, exposing them to the potential social stigma invoked by nonadherence. This article investigates how consumers with food intolerance strive to adhere to hegemonic taste regimes and avoid social stigma through a qualitative study of the quest of Danish consumers with histamine intolerance to derive pleasure from hedonic food consumption. Four coping strategies are identified: experimenting in an exploration of the liminal space between consumable and nonconsumable foods, substituting nontolerable foods by safe ones, facilitating consumption of nontolerable foods through the use of medical and technological aids, and prioritizing practices of hedonic food consumption over adverse bodily reactions. These coping strategies are conjectured to be generalizable in the context of other aesthetically oriented (sub-)cultures of consumption and suggest an alternative perspective on hedonism as minimization of loss of pleasure rather than as maximization of pleasure. The implications of the findings extend beyond the context of hedonic food consumption, though, presenting empirical evidence for and nuancing recent extensions of Goffman's theory of social stigma and providing insights on the relation between public stigma and self-stigma, on how taste regimes can be experienced as exclusive and oppressive, and on how social stigma positively reinforces hegemonic taste regimes.

TidsskriftInternational Journal of Consumer Studies
Udgave nummer3
Sider (fra-til)320-334
StatusUdgivet - maj 2021


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