Locating anxiety in the social: The cultural mediation of food fears
Drawing on current research about food-related anxieties, this article argues for an expanded understanding of the presence and location of anxiety in the social. It contends that anxiety is usefully conceptualised as collective and distributed, rather than solely as a property or experience of the individual. Focusing on anxiety as a social condition, the article explores how anxieties become embedded and embodied within routinised practices, technologies and institutions. It draws out and demonstrates the processes and practices through which anxieties are socially constituted and culturally mediated, and through which they travel across spaces and scales. This is exemplified through the case of Jamie’s Ministry of Food (a 2008 television series and media campaign featuring the British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver). The article shows how food serves as a vehicle for the circulation of a variety of related concerns, including anxieties about class and gender relations, notions of place identity and regional stereotyping.