'Rationing has not made me like margarine'. Food and Second World War in Britain: a Mass Observation testimony

Chevalier, Natacha (2016) 'Rationing has not made me like margarine'. Food and Second World War in Britain: a Mass Observation testimony. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis enhances our understanding of the British Kitchen Front through the examination of primary sources from Mass Observation Archive. It illuminates the everyday life of civilians, the impact of the war food restrictions on their eating habits and practices, but also on their perspectives and behaviours. Moreover, it argues that while the food practices of these civilians were modified by the wartime rationing and food scarcity, other factors of influence, namely social class, personal and familial circumstances and time were critical regarding eating habits, food choice and priorities. In order to conduct this research and respond to the difficulties presented by the sources examined, a tailor-made method of data extraction, categorisation and analysis has been designed. Using the advantages of quantitative and qualitative methodologies, this method allowed an unusual quantitative treatment of massive qualitative data, the creation of measurable and comparable figures as well as their qualitative contextualisation. It was found that scarcity of food effectively modified the diet of the diarists, but also their actions and perspective. The food difficulties generated new behaviours, some unlikely to have existed prior to the war, and modified relationships. The value of food changed as well, modifying its role in private and public sphere. However, as argued, the social class and the familial status of the diarists were a key dimension of the management and perception of the food situation, influencing their choice, decision and priorities as well as their response to it. The passing of time also proved to be influential regarding the adaptation and the evolution of the opinion and feelings of the diarists. Rather than drastically challenging the existent literature, the present research suggests that some interpretative differences concerning the Home Front experience could be the result of a variation of focus and of sources employed, indicating the need to enlarge the historical perspective, to include more in depth analysis of qualitative data, and to take into account the factors of influence presented into this work.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Subjects: T Technology > TX Home economics > TX0341 Nutrition. Foods and food supply
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2016 11:52
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2018 09:34
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/63978

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