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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Social lens or inherently social phenomenon? The study of food in Swedish sociology

Baath, Jonas; Neuman, Nicklas


Sociology's tendency to branch into applied scientific disciplines is regularly debated. This debate focuses either on the organisation of sociology in academic institutions or on how the content of sociologically informed interdisciplinary research diverges from disciplinary sociology. This article bridges these debates in a study of the sociology of food in Sweden. The aim is to analyse how Swedish food sociology reflects the tension between disciplinary sociology and interdisciplinary research. The data comprise the doctoral dissertations and post-PhD career paths of Swedish sociologists whose dissertations are about food. The article finds that these dissertations treat food either as an inherently social phenomenon or as a social lens (i.e. a social phenomenon viewed as instrumental for analysing something else). Second, it is found that sociologists whose dissertations treated food as an inherently social phenomenon were more likely to pursue careers in food sociology but also to hold affiliations outside of sociology departments. The article concludes that the academic locus of Swedish food sociology is organised outside sociology departments but that its approaches are not necessarily any less sociological. Thus, the analysis questions the basis for arguments that interdisciplinary research represents a threat to the critical and analytical core of sociology.


Academic careers; academic organisation; boundary work; food; interdisciplinary research

Published in

Current Sociology
2023, Volume: 71, number: 6, article number: 00113921211048520

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Sociology (excluding Social work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)

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