Education, School, and Behaviour Faculty of Philosophy

Nutrition, Health and Modern Society: Germany and the United States

The research project aims to work out the significance of nutrition and health for the order of modern societies from the 19th century to the present. The empirical focus is on the USA and Germany, so that regional differences as well as the dynamics of interdependence in globalizing constellations become apparent.

Duration
10/2015 - 10/2018

Funding
VolkswagenStiftung :
1 000 000 Euro

Project management

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Martschukat
Holder of the professorship for North American History (Nordamerikanische Geschichte) ()

The research project aims to work out the significance of nutrition and health for the order of modern societies from the 19th century to the present. The empirical focus is on the USA and Germany, so that regional differences as well as the dynamics of interdependence in globalizing constellations become apparent. By combining health science, sociological, cultural and historical analyses, it can be shown how health as a regulating ideal has moved to the centre of a society that is geared towards performance and fitness, and which uses the 'successful self' as a benchmark. The research network understands these interrelationships as part of "biopolitics" (Foucault), which develops and materializes in a historically and socially, culturally and action-practically specific way - but which is always controversially negotiated in the media, politics, science and everyday life.

Our group critically examines how the nexus of nutrition and health organizes and regulates modern societies around a successful self, suggests moral judgments about 'good' and 'bad' lifestyles, and influences social positions of people. The project network will locate and empirically investigate the links between obesity, health, self-responsibility and social crisis from a historical, sociological and health science perspective, thus problematizing the evidence of health as a norm. Methodologically, the project ties in with the sociology and history of the body, critical ability studies and governmentality studies. Different theoretical and methodological instruments are applied, which are also related to each other and thus further developed: Discourse analysis, praxeology (ANT), literature review, quantitative representative surveys, media and image analysis etc.

Cultural and Social History Interdisciplinary Health Research Interdisciplinary Nutrition Research