chapter  11
13 Pages

Contested sustainability discourses as lived experience

Conflicted feelings towards meat in consumers’ narratives and life stories
WithRobert Magneson Chiles

Many of the sustainability discourses that circulate in academic and popular media pay insufficient attention to how socio-environmental controversies deeply perplex ordinary consumers. In this chapter, I use narrative analysis to examine the contested sustainability discourses that surround meat consumption in the life stories of three focus group participants: Mark, a 32 year old single black man who attends community college and does seasonal subcontracting work; Gabby, an 18 year old single white woman and a full time university student; and Patty, a 53 year old divorced white woman who does home healthcare work while stocking shelves part-time at a national retailer. Their narratives collectively illuminate the key discourses which have shaped normative understandings about meat throughout American history: scarcity, abundance, comfort, guilt, pride, tradition, and apprehension. The purpose of this chapter is to unpack these tensions and unravel the different threads which tug on the hearts, minds, and stomachs of modern consumers.