Thesis subject

Thesis subject: Fashion, Food & Life Style

Fashion, Food & Life Style

Do you want to gain a better understanding of the cultural drivers of food and fashion consumption, through a literature review and additional research? Then this is a good thesis opportunity for you. You will be working with Artez (Danielle Bruggeman), WUR (Kim Poldner) and Radbout University (Liedeke Plate).

Background of the project

Food and fashion are distinct sectors that nonetheless intersect in many ways and at many levels, from production (using soil for crops for food, textiles, or both) to consumption and beyond (waste, recycling). Changes in consumption patterns in these sectors can have a significant impact on the future of our planet, as humankind consumes more than 20.000.000 tons of food, more than 200.000 tons of food packaging and more than 100.000 tons of clothing annually. The consumption of food and fashion is embedded in material cultures, meaning that consumers construct meaning through their choices.

Central questions you will address

This project seeks to understand how consumers can be motivated to make more sustainable choices with respect to food and fashion by focusing on the ways in which food and fashion not only meet physiological needs (e.g. still hunger, shield from the cold) but also social and cultural ones, such as serving as expressions and markers of identity and belonging. How are food and fashion choices informed by a sense of identity and/or of belonging and how do consumption patterns with respect to food and fashion reflect that and express (personal, social or cultural – ethnic, religious, etc.) identity and belonging? Can patterns be detected with respect to these food and fashion choices?

What will you do?

The exploratory research assignment consists of a literature study mapping existing research on food, fashion and identity; a series of 10 in depth interviews and an attempt to theorize the relationship between food, fashion and identity (or life style).

Concretely, this means conducting:

  • Research on fashion & identity; survey on existing literature on the relationship between fashion & identity: what’s been done, what remains to be researched? E.g. which countries, ethnic or social groups? Fashion wearing, making, buying, wasting? Role of media, social platforms? Which methodologies have been used? Based on which theories?
  • Research on food & identity: survey on existing literature on the relationship between fashion & identity: what’s been done, what remains to be researched? E.g. which countries, crops, ethnic or social groups? Food production, consumption (eating cultures), wasting? Which methodologies have been used? Based on which theories?
  • Research on the intersections of the material cultures of fashion and food: What existing literature exists on the topic? At what levels do the two material cultures intersect, collude or collide? (Think of the rise of ‘food design’?)
  • Conduct a series of 8-10 in-depth interviews with a diversity of people (age, gender, social and cultural background, race/ethnicity,…) to explore their perspectives on the intersections of the material cultures of food and fashion. Are there parallels between their food and fashion choices?
  • Based on these finding, how can the relationship between food, fashion and identity (or life style) be theorized? Ideally, the student formulates propositions (hypotheses) on how consumers can be motivated to make more sustainable choices with respect to food and fashion based on insights gained through the assignment. This might include an analysis of – or hypotheses about – levels of readiness to change.

For more information, contact our Education Coordinator Ayla Schwarz (ayla.schwarz@wur.nl)