Centre for Rural Economy

Chisaki Fukushima

Chisaki Fukushima

Food consumption, risk and resilience: ethnographic explorations in Japan

Email: C.Fukushima2@newcastle.ac.uk

Supervisors: Dr Menelaos Gkartzios, Dr Sharron Kuznesof and Dr Gitte Marianne Hansen

Project overview

Japan has been prone to various natural disasters throughout its history. Disasters are not caused only by the natural environment, but by complex, collateral, human-related, socio-political and economic factors of interrelated phenomena.

For example, following the Tohoku disaster in 2011, there has been a strong tendency to avoid agricultural products from the north eastern region due to the fear of radiation by the nuclear meltdown.

The stagnation of the market price impinges the farmers’ livelihood no matter how much officials assured for their safety. The radiation is physically invisible and it is hard to prove the actual harm (in the moderate and complex situation).

Furthermore, people tend to react to the risk of radiation as more serious than in other risk, such as food colouring or consumption of artificial substances (Lupton, 1999).

In my ethnographic research, in order to find out the social construction of risk, my attempt is to explore:

  • in what specific contexts, consumers perceive potential risk (in particular: location, time, occasion, institution or person, etc)
  • how and why they process the conception of risk into behaviour, and
  • how the case study of the cultural model of risk fits into wider theories of disaster and resilience

I want to:

  • analyse the impact of disaster on a group of consumers
  • help understand the complex system of domestic food distribution
  • identify consumer culture in the global context
  • develop a tool for the effective of agriculture interventions