Friends, enemies and the cultural politics of critical obesity research

Michael Gard

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter


What follows in this chapter is a somewhat anecdotal account of my experiences as one of a small international group of obesity sceptics - some of whom are contributors to this volume ' and what we might call the cultural politics of critical obesity research. My purpose is threefold: first, to interrogate some of the complacent alliances that form between 'like minds' in critical obesity research; second, to explore some of the intellectual resources that have yet to be harnessed by critical obesity researchers and; third, to contribute to scholarship about the cultural significance of 'obesity epidemic' discourse. While its personal flavour may worry some readers, my aspiration here is conventionally academic: to illuminate by trying to connect and disconnect ideas. Throughout, Beck's warning that risk undermines traditional political and theoretical alliances will be a mostly unstated presence. Above all, though, I want to show that, as with the example of Frank Furedi, what matters in the world ' but particularly the world of obesity science - is belief, not truth, and that this is a 'truth'critical obesity scholars might profitably exploit in their own work. Our job as dissenting voices may be less about establishing the truth about obesity but rather exploiting people's beliefs.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBiopolitics and the 'Obesity Epidemic'
Subtitle of host publicationGoverning Bodies
EditorsJan Wright, Valerie Harwood
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9780415991889
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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