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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Food-related decision-making and activities of younger, childless, dual-earner couples living in Vancouver Ristovski-Sluijepcevic, Svetlana


Most studies of family food practices were conducted over a decade ago and focused on families with children where women were economically dependent on their husbands. According to Statistics Canada, however, families without children constitute a significant proportion of Canadian families, many of whom are dual-earner. The purpose of this study was to explore the food-related decision-making and activities of younger, childless, dual-earner, heterosexual couples living in Vancouver. A qualitative research design was used. Data was collected from each of the partners via one-week food diaries and semi-structured, audio-taped interviews, and analyzed via iterative process methods commonly used in qualitative research. Construedvist assumptions about the social world were used as resources for analytical decisions. The three main areas of interest were food provision, health and nutrition, and commensality. In all areas, couples demonstrated a diversity of patterns. The theme communicated by both women and men was equality in food provision, even though some gender differences about gender-role ideals existed. The strategies for achieving equality varied. The two most prevalent strategies were the "specialization" (with the substrategies "traditional trade-off and "role reversal") and "sharing it all" (with the substrategies "rotating tasks" and "each their own"). With regards to health and nutrition, each participant's healthy eating approach was shaped by their unique life-course experiences. Upon cohabitation, participants' healthy eating values and approaches were re-examined. Healthy eating negotiations varied among couples, such that some couples developed both congruent values and approaches, other couples developed congruent values but maintained different approaches, and one couple had both different values and approaches. In a broader context, food was a significant part of the identity of some couples, but for others it was not. These findings differ from previous findings about families with children. Therefore, childless couples differ from families with children in at least 3 different food-related areas. The implications of these findings are that, with regards to research, we need to focus food-related research on families other than the nuclear family with children. Childless couples also showed differences among themselves, indicating that in practice settings practitioners can avoid generalizing food experiences by asking clients specific questions about their own, every-day experiences with food at home.

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