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Between “health” and “tradition”: social representations of the Mediterranean diet


This study analyses, through a qualitative approach, the social representations about Mediterranean Diet of Spanish dieticians and laywomen living in Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain). The comparison between their discourses allows understanding how a professional group and a lay group deal with, and incorporate, social and medical discourses in eating practices. In food modernity, the process of medicalization of food contributed to a progressively emergence of a scientific-nutritional rationality. In that context, the Mediterranean Diet seems to embody, in a utopic way, a nutritional and moral norm. At the same time, this food modernity, characterized by social transformations such as industrialization and the establishment of a common transnational space, provoked a nostalgia concerning some eating practices perceived as “traditional”. Therefore, the Mediterranean Diet becomes important as a cultural heritage to be protected. Hence, we may realize that social and medical discourses merge, complement and blend, creating new food norms, representations and practices.

Mediterranean diet; healthy eating; nutritional norms; food heritage; social representations

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