Why CJCS is ‘special’

October 21, 2013 § 1 Comment

Editing an academic journal is a great experience, not always extremely gratifying, but I would say, always enriching. Today is one of these particular fascinating moments:  CJCS has last issue on-line.

This is a special issue entitled ‘Communication and food for health benefits. Negotiating meanings in networked times’ in which we have published thirteen different texts in many aspects but all them encompassing such a complex issue as it is food: not only a primarily human need but also a kaleidoscopic social and cultural practice in which communication plays a crucial role.

This issue has been expertly guest edited by Dr. Jordi Farré (Universitat Rovira i Virgili) and Prof. Julie Barnett (University of Bath) and it is including one editorial article, seven full articles on theory and research in the field, a short viewpoint on the topic and (new!) four short notes from professional experiences with the aim to offer a better link between scholar thinking and day to day practice.

The editorial from the guest editors offers an overview on the main debates relating food, health and communication. Farré and Barnett defend that these debates “involve negotiations within and between public institutions, private organizations, a multiplicity of stakeholder groups, traditional and social media and consumers”. It is an introduction to the whole issue, which begin with a theoretical approach by Jordi Farré, Jordi Prades and Jan Gonzalo, to whom food is conceived as a process of communication that can be understood from the paradigm of mediatization.

The issue follows with a theoretical approach and research analysis from Pieter Maeseele (University of Antwerp), who discusses “how a politicized reading illustrates the extent to which there is a struggle between politici­zation and de-politization processes in these discourses, illustrating the ideological nature of communication practices on food”. This is a interesting idea as we often assist to food or health discourses as detached from ideology and politics, when they are not. The next research article, by Peter Miltner, Daniel Maier, Barbara Pfetsch and Annie Waldherr (Freie Universität Berlin) pick this discussion up from Maeseele and focuses on the roles of online networks in order to establishing links among society, professional actors, media, political parties, etc. The article is offering then a hyperlink analysis of the food safety issue in the German context.

The following texts are much more focused on the relationship between health professionals and consumers, therefore the issue is moving to dietary campaigns and citizenship perceptions. The team composed by Wendy Wills, Angela M. Dickinson, Frances Short (University of Hertfordshire) and Fiona Comrie (Food Standards Agency in Scotland) offers a qualitative research on consumers and health professional discourses, which involved focus groups and print articles analysis. This text is noting the gaps and deficits of nutrition information, rarely well contextualized for consumers. Tino Bech-Larsen, Jessica Aschemann-Witzel (Aarhus University), Win Verbeke (Ghent University) and Barbara Niedzwiedzka (Jagiellonian University) are also publishing a qualitative analysis focused on in-depth interviewing on dietary campaigners on which there is a debate of how to empower consumer in this process. The topic is closed by the text from Francesc Puiggrós (CNTS-TECNIO), who publishes an article on health claims and consumer perceptions with a view on European policies.

CJCS has been always an open forum to approaches from sociology to cultural studies. That’s the reason why we also included in this issue the article from Sophia C. Vackimes (Institut Català de Recerca en Patrimoni Cultural) with a contribution on cultural identity, high-end cuisine, and national heritage. Food and the culinary is always a matter of cultural identity and even national prestige. Vackimes publishes an insightful text discussing concepts like heritage, national identity and high-end restaurants, with a view on some of the most prestigious cookers in Catalonia.

This issue is also offering a short text from Natàlia Lozano and Mònica Lores, two young researchers at Universitat Rovira i Virgili – Asterisc Communication Research Group, who have been involved in a European research on food and social networks. Their text is analysing how food safety agencies are adapting their communication strategies to social media. Finally, the issue ends with four short notes from professionals, journalists and consultants who are working on the topic of food trends, social networks and innovative practices. These texts are presented in a new and particular section entitled ‘Professional Experiences’ which we have specially opened in the occasion of this special issue.

With this, CJCS has published four special issues; all them focused on topics of great interest (risk, tourism and place branding, gender relations, and now food). This is perhaps why CJCS is special, as we try not just focusing on media and communication or in a narrow field or context, but participating in global debates, broader discussions and truly multidisciplinary approaches. And this means that sometimes you have to de-learn or re-focus in order to include new debates and viewpoints to the academic sphere and to move closer to professional practices and outputs.

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