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“What's in Your Lunch Box Today?”: Health, Respectability, and Ethnicity in the Primary Classroom


  • The research for this paper was made possible by the Danish Independent Research Council, Grant no. 09-066462.


Much socialization of children into healthy food practices takes place in the educational system. However, teachers' understandings of healthy food may differ from those of students and parents. Furthermore, health is connected to respectability. Thus, food socialization concerns more than nutritional values. This study examines lunchtime interactions between minority students and majority teachers in a Danish classroom. I show that certain traditional food items (rye bread) are treated as superior to certain others that minority children regularly bring. Children are accountable for lunch boxes, and cultural and personal preferences are disregarded if at odds with dominant understandings of healthy food. [language socialization, classroom interaction, respectability, multicultural classroom, interaction analyses]