Navigating Food Insecurity
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"This thesis explores the structural violence of food insecurity within a neoliberal context, using the case study of a food bank in Glasgow, Scotland. The work shows how individuals who use the food bank, both service users and volunteers, navigate the neoliberal ideal of individualism and 'responsibilism' when needing support. The anthropological lens has allowed a human level of storytelling to question the narrative of food insecurity being a problem for which individuals are responsible. Through three months of volunteering in a food bank in Glasgow, this thesis builds its argument on participant observation and semi-structured interviews with the service users and volunteers of the charity. The thesis shows how children and asylum seekers are understood to need and ‘deserve’ support within Scottish society and the foodbank. It explores how the neoliberal narrative of individualism creates a barrier for those who need support but do not see themselves as ‘needy’ and ‘deserving’. The volunteers within the food bank navigate this dynamic of structural violence and neoliberalism by engaging in gift exchange, wherein they volunteer at the food bank and understand this work to be in exchange for access to cheaper and free food. This exchange allows them the support and access from a food bank, whilst navigating the assumption of failure associated with using a charity in a neoliberal context. "