Exploring the Role Parents Play in Shaping Children's Food Socialisation Practices within the Family Setting

  • Tanyatip Kharuhayothin

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis aims to understand familial food socialisation processes, with a particular focus on exploring how parents influence and shape the eating practices of their children within the family setting. Parents are considered to be the most influential socialisation agents for children in forming food consumption behaviours. Food consumption is one of the earliest consumption skills that children learn from their parents. Although the existing literature establishes that parents are the most powerful socialisation agent for children, much less is known about the roles parents play in shaping and influencing children's food consumption patterns (i.e. activities undertaken to teach children about food). To bridge such a gap in knowledge, this exploratory study, therefore, seeks to forge a deeper understanding of the roles parents play within the context of food socialisation processes. Multiple qualitative methods - existential-phenomenological interviews, photo elicitation interviews informed by a photo diary task, and accompanied grocery-shopping trips - were employed to help understand the formation of parental food socialisation processes. Thirty parents took part in this study. Fathers or mothers (who self-identified as the primary food preparers for their family) were purposively recruited from the United Kingdom. The findings illustrate that parental food socialisation practices are shaped by how parents choose to adopt - or disregard - particular food practices that they acquired during their own primary food socialisation, as informed through intergenerational reflexivity. Various parental feeding strategies are discussed, and how parents neutralise "deviant" food practices within familial food socialisation processes are addressed. Parental food socialisation practices are found to be informed by the overarching notion of intensive parenting ideals - with parents trying to adhere to such an ideology to ensure that their children eat healthily. This thesis makes several contributions to the existing literature of consumer socialisation. First, it contributes to the understanding of the temporal dimensions of intergenerational influence (through the lens of emotional reflexivity) within the familial food consumption context. Second, it rejects the notion that parents typically consistently adopt the same parental feeding style throughout their socialisation patterns and shows that parental food socialisation strategies are rather explicit and purposeful than implicit. Lastly, it contributes to understanding how a socialisation agent's deviant practices (parental deviant food practices) are particularly relevant in the food socialisation context - and can be regarded as an inhibiting factor as parents socialise their children.
Date of Award1 Aug 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorCharles Cui (Supervisor)


  • Family
  • Parents
  • Intergenerational Influence
  • Familial Food Socialisation Process
  • Children
  • Intensive Parenting
  • Food Socialisation
  • Parental Deviant Behaviour
  • Neutralisation Theory
  • Attitude-Behaviour Gap
  • Emotional Reflexivity
  • Parental Food Socialisation Strategies

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