Kommunikation, kost og samfundstendenser: En kritisk diskursanalyse af de officielle kostråd og tre populærdiæter

Henriette Utke Schiøler & Mads Johansen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The aim of this thesis is to examine why actors other than the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration(DVFA) succeed in achieving prominent positions in regards to affecting certain Danes’ nutritional choices.We find this an interesting issue as initial research has clearly indicated that the DVFA is not the sole actorin this field; a lot of different diets (in this case Paleo, Low Carb High Fat and the 5:2 diet) have in recentyears been very noticeable in offering alternative views on the healthiest nutritional choices.By applying Fairclough’s critical discourse analysis (CDA) as an analytical and methodological frameworkwe have been able to shed light on our research question through analysis of three integrated levels ofcommunication: text, discursive practices, and social practices. Using qualitative methods, we conductedthorough document analysis of various communicative instances produced by the actors of our concern.Further, we carried out a series of semi-structured interviews, with laypersons as well as experts, to gainknowledge of the social aspects of our field. On the basis of the analysis we were able to outline threeessential characteristics in explaining why certain diets can root themselves in individuals in such a way thatthey become more dominant than DVFA;First, science today constitutes a space of possibilities while creating credibility for the players in the field;currently, no final truth exists concerning what an optimal healthy diet is and, thus, it becomes possible forvarious diets to co-exist and to articulate contradictory messages. Furthermore, our interviews showed thatperceived scientific validity legitimates the different diets. As a result of this tension it becomes possible fordisparate stakeholders to articulate their own nutritional agenda and establish their scientific anchoringthrough communication – and this is highly valued by the recipients. However, in regards to thecommunication from the DVFA about the official dietary recommendations, our analysis shows that ascientific discourse is not used in a constitutive manner, which is the case amongst the other diets. This isproblematic in the light of our findings.Secondly, we have identified a health trend in society. This trend has established societal ideals of beingstrong, slim, healthy and beautiful, and these are further associated with being focused, successful and incontrol. This trend facilitates the existence of e.g. the Paleo, Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) and 5:2 diets, asthey offer their views on how individuals can live out this societal health trend. Specifically, the trend createsa space of opportunities where the different actors can articulate their specific beliefs in a meaningful way(including the DVFA). This finding is closely related to our third finding; there seems to exist a particularpractice whereby the late modern individual, in a reflective manner, is looking to construct his or her ownunique identity in a self-developing way. Hence, since a health trend is so dominant, much of the identityconstruction will emanate from this trend. Our analysis showed that the communication about the Paleo,LCHF and 5:2 diets incorporates various discursive and textual constructions that reproduce the values,norms and perspectives associated with the health trend and the late modern identity construction. This wasnot the case for the DVFAs communication to the same extent. Therefore, the DVFA does not construct theofficial dietary recommendations as a tool or lifestyle that contributes to the individual’s self development ina health-oriented world in the same way as the other diets do.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Organizational Communication, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages255