The class and cultural functions of obesity discourse: our latter day child saving movement

John Evans, Brian Davies, Emma Rich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines the inexorable rise of 'health' as regulative discourse, highlighting its class and cultural dimensions. With reference to the policy content of recent obesity reports, analysis suggests that contemporary concerns around obesity are but a modern variant of earlier eighteenth and nineteenth century child saving crusades whose primary concerns were the regulation of deviant populations among women and the working classes rather than amelioration of the antecedents of social disorder and its attendant ill-health. Unlike earlier crusades, however, in the 'risk' discourse of contemporary versions, class and gender are but a subtle presence, while other subjectivities of ethnicity, age and disability are barely to be seen. We suggest that in failing to address the complexity of people's lives and the intersections of class and culture, such policies and their attendant pedagogies are likely to have very little impact on either individual or community health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-132
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Studies in Sociology of Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008


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