Linguistics and English Language

Language in context seminar

Speaker: Ariel Chen (Örebro University)

Title: MCDA in 3D – Food packaging analysis

Abstract: Why do you buy certain snack bars? What does the snack bar say about you? And how are these things said?

Here we take protein snack packaging as an example to show how Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis can be used to examine three dimensional objects. Objects that we can pick up and feel, carry to different places, and show who we are.

Protein snacks are one of the fastest growing segments in the food market. They are marketed as a good food choice through their packaging. The packaging reproduces a discourse, a myth, of the benefit of high protein intake. Research shows that consumers believe high protein food has a positive impact on physical performance and body composition, although there is very little evidence of that.

Adopting MCDA we will look in detail at the packaging of a group of snacks that are high in fat and sugar but now appear as good food options, particularly through accentuating the protein content. The analysis shows that the packaging markets these products as an outcome of scientific modern technology, but this is done in playful and comforting ways. This goes along with neoliberal ideas about wellness and the demands of an active lifestyle. The discourse of health is shaped and capitalised on by food marketers via food packaging. The limitations of existing food packaging regulations will also be discussed.


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Stephen McNulty

Sarah Van Eyndhoven

Co-ordinators of LinC

Sep 24 2019 -

Language in context seminar

2019-09-24: MCDA in 3D – Food packaging analysis

Room G32, Psychology Building, 7 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9JZ