Schooling Lunch

By: Deana Leahy   Carolyn Pluim  

In this paper we examine how the school lunchbox has become a contemporary site of governmental surveillance, intervention and reform. Drawing on Popkewitz’s (2008) concept of pedagogicalization, we describe how school lunches act as a kind of normalizing and regulating device to educate on what it means to have an acceptable lunch, be a responsible parent (Pike & Leahy, 2012) and have and/or be a healthy child (Evans, De Pian & Rich, 2011). Our international investigation considers school practices and policies in Australia, New Zealand, and United States. Drawing on the field of governmentality studies our discourse analysis of key policies, curriculum documents and program websites and materials reveals the widespread use of the school lunch experience as a (global) strategy to instill ideological and normative messages around health, consumption and responsibility. Our analysis then turns to examine the role of educators in this process and the various subject positions they are encouraged to assume with regards to the health and wellness discourses in circulation. We conclude by suggesting that the lunchbox has become a powerful governmental device that works to produce particular notions of the healthy self and parenting that are potentially problematic and may indeed produce counter effects.

Health, School, Lunchbox
Food, Politics, and Cultures
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Dr. Deana Leahy

-, -, Monash University, Australia
-, Australia

Deana is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. Her research interests are primarily concerned with the politics of health education; curriculum and pedagogy. Drawing on interdisciplinary perspectives her recent work has sought to critique the emergence and effects of various health crises on school based health education.

Dr. Carolyn Pluim

United States
Illinois, United States

Carolyn’s research interests are focused around the intersections of sociology of education, curriculum studies and educational policy, specifically as these relate to school health policies, practices and pedagogies. She explores the ways in which contemporary school health policies are negotiated and experienced by students and school personnel. A central theme running throughout her research is the relationship between discourse and social dynamics as this bears on sociological understandings of health, illness and the body and influences the responsibilities and obligations of public schools.