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The heterogeneous network of functional food technoscience, productive risk and impure nature

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Title: The heterogeneous network of functional food technoscience, productive risk and impure nature
Author(s): Kim, Hyomin
Director of Research: Pickering, Andrew
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Liao, Tim; Pickering, Andrew
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Nederveen-Pieterse, Jan; Elichirigoity, Fernando
Department / Program: Sociology
Discipline: Sociology
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): Risk Health Functional Food Lifestyle-related disease
Abstract: This dissertation analyzes increasing interests in health risks and natural foods since the late 1990s by investigating the emergence of the concepts of functional food and lifestyle-related disease. For this project, I conducted on-line multi-sited ethnographic study to examine and examined the connections among food science, molecular biotechnoscience, the mass media and on-line communities formed around a specific brown rice variety with enhanced amount of GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid). I also conducted interviews with five Korean scientists who are actively involved in functional rice development. This research focuses on the processes through which biotechnoscience, the mass media and increasing consumers’ interests in natural foods constitute three major changes in risk society; (1) changes in the conventional boundary between natural and artificial foods, (2) between esoteric and exoteric circles as knowledge producers, and (3) between the mainstream biomedical practices and dietary intervention for health management. Germinated Brown Rice (GBR) has been advertised as a functional food in Korea. Since 1994, food scientists found that it contains higher levels of GABA (a major neurotransmitter with health benefits claimed in several pharmaceutical settings) than regular white rice. Interests in GBR indicate heightened adversity toward processed foods (such as white rice), growing concerns over chronic diseases caused by industrialized foods and advancement in bio-technoscience, all of which occur in Korea in its phase of late industrialization. Affected by theoretical frameworks of actor-network theory and posthumanist analysis, I demonstrated that GBR indicates a socio-techno-scientific network where a specific thought style and mode of behavior are co-produced. Food scientists’ experimental findings, mass media discourses of modern risks and Korean female consumers all promote values of functional foods, thus creating a chain reaction in mainstream society. Along this chain, food scientists’ interests in neurotransmitters are connected to the media’s accounts on GBR’s health benefits and mothers’ interests in managing their families’ health to on-line communities. By suggesting new analytical frameworks for natural and healthy foods after the 1990s, I expand the concept of risks from the general fear of industrialization into the interactive transformation of human, material and conceptual actors.
Issue Date: 2011-05-25
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/24428
Rights Information: Copyright 2011 Hyomin Kim
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-05-25
2013-05-26
Date Deposited: 2011-05
 

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