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Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing

MICRA’s Ema Johnson picks up prize at BSG Conference

18 July 2017

Ema was thrilled to win the annual poster prize at the recent British Society of Gerontology Conference.

Ema Johnson

There was a great interest and enthusiasm in Ema's work from conference delegates. Her research takes the often taken for granted everyday meal practices of older adults, seeking to understand their experiences of commensality (eating together) and eating alone.

The aim is to unearth the everyday practices of groups of society that we need to understand better; solo households and older adults. The research examines how the provisioning; shopping, cooking and eating of meals can affect an older person’s sense of belonging and participation in later life.

According to Ema “a sense of belonging is the part of our identity that bridges the self to the surrounding social world”.

The research uses the practices of meal provisioning and the sociological lens of belonging as the tools to discover how the social landscape of meals within different modes of provisioning become entangled with certain social practices and senses of belonging in later life. This research will reveal new perspectives on how we envision sustainable food provisioning and social care supports, when considering recent societal shifts towards solo living and an ageing population.

The study takes place in Blackpool and The Fylde, a working-class seaside town and attempts to gather data in a real life everyday setting, by examining a range of social spaces and eating places that are purposefully for older people and sites popular with older people for meal provision. These include a lunch club, a social club, and a supermarket café. The sites provide an exploration of market, state and community institutions, while also researching alternative and emergent spaces of provision. These sites are typical institutions, found in most towns or cities. Such sites produce a cross-section of common experience to examine the barriers and facilitators of belonging to and participation within neighbourhoods through meal provision.

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