Dr Mike Foden
Department of Geography
Leverhulme Early Career Fellow
Full contact details
Department of Geography
Geography and Planning Building
Mike Foden is a Research Fellow in the Department of Geography. His current research, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, explores everyday household experiences of adopting vegan, vegetarian and reduced meat diets. His wider interests are in the interrelations between everyday life, grassroots action for change and sociotechnical transitions to more sustainable futures.
After graduating in Sociology from the University of Nottingham, Mike spent 10 years at Sheffield Hallam University, working in student support and research roles while completing an MSc and PhD. His doctoral research on Reclaiming Unwanted Things considered the processes through which marginal economic practices – in this case informal initiatives for salvaging and circulating goods that would otherwise go to waste – become normalised.
Following his PhD, Mike worked as a postdoctoral researcher, first in Geography at the University of Sheffield and then in the School of Social, Political and Global Studies at Keele University. He returned to the University of Sheffield in September 2020 to begin a three-year Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship.
- Research interests
My research overlaps a number of academic fields, especially the sociology and geographies of consumption, social movement studies, and feminist economic geography. It draws on intersecting currents of relational materialist social theory, primarily practice theory in dialogue with insights from actor-network, non-representational and new materialist thinking. My overarching research interests are in the part played by ordinary households and grassroots movements in bringing about or resisting societal transitions.
Empirically, I have explored these themes in relation to everyday food consumption; waste reclamation and reuse; and community-led initiatives for sourcing, distributing and/or conserving resources such as food and energy. My recent research activity includes the following:
- Everyday transitions to reduced meat diets (Leverhulme Trust, 2020-23) – Research funded through my Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship aims to increase understanding of the possibilities and challenges of achieving food transitions for sustainability, viewed from the perspective of everyday life in ordinary households. Its primary concern is to learn from the experiences of householders aiming to reduce their consumption of meat and other animal products, by accompanying participants in their daily food provisioning activities. At a conceptual level the study investigates the material and cultural processes by which some things and not others ‘become food’ in a given setting, and through which eating subjects are continually made and remade.
- SafeConsume (EU Horizon 2020, 2017-22) – As part of a European-wide research and innovation project on domestic food safety, I was responsible for ethnographic research with UK households, observing their food provisioning activities from shopping and transport through to cooking and eating. Working with Professor Lydia Martens at Keele University, our analysis has focused on the daily work of making food safe to eat and how multiple priorities and anxieties are negotiated in the process.
- Change Points – Following our previous work on Reshaping the Domestic Nexus, this ongoing collaboration with colleagues at the Universities of Sheffield, Manchester and Bristol seeks to operationalise evidence and insights from relational social science (especially research informed by theories of practice) to better inform policy making in tackling unsustainable patterns of energy, food and water use.
- Environment or economy? Food concerns and sustainable food transitions in the UK. Sociology.
- Washing hands and risk of cross-contamination during chicken preparation among domestic practitioners in five European countries. Food Control, 127. View this article in WRRO
- Consumer practices and prevalence of Campylobacter, Salmonella and norovirus in kitchens from six European countries. International Journal of Food Microbiology, 347. View this article in WRRO
- Priorities for social science and humanities research on the challenges of moving beyond animal-based food systems. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 8(1). View this article in WRRO
- Re-reading civil society action for environmental sustainability. Voluntary Sector Review, 11(2), 169-173.
- Challenges and opportunities for re-framing resource use policy with practice theories: The change points approach. Global Environmental Change, 62, ---. View this article in WRRO
- The water–energy–food nexus at home: New opportunities for policy interventions in household sustainability. The Geographical Journal, 185(4), 406-418. View this article in WRRO
- State, community and the negotiated construction of energy markets : community energy policy in England. Geoforum, 100, 21-31.
- Community energy : entanglements of community, state, and private sector. Geography Compass, 12(7).
- Saving time, saving money, saving the planet, 'one gift at a time': A practice-centred exploration of free online reuse exchange. Ephemera : Theory and Politics in Organization, 15(1), 41-65.
- Editorial: critical perspectives on community energy. People, Place and Policy Online, 8(3), 145-148.
- Everyday consumption practices as a site for activism? Exploring the motivations of grassroots reuse groups. People Place and Policy Online, 6(3), 148-163.
- Area-based regeneration partnerships and the role of central government: the New Deal for Communities programme in England. Policy & Politics, 38(2), 235-251.
- Understanding Area-based Regeneration: The New Deal for Communities Programme in England. Urban Studies, 47(2), 257-275.
- Linking interventions to outcomes in area regeneration: The New Deal for Communities Programme in England. Town Planning Review, 81(2), 151-172.
- Change Points: A toolkit for designing interventions that unlock unsustainable practices
- Energy use, flexibility and domestic food practices: implications for policy and intervention
- Food waste and kitchen practices: implications for policy and intervention
- Fats, oils, grease and kitchen practices: implications for policy and intervention
- Final report for the Reshaping the Domestic Nexus project
- Teaching interests
I currently teach qualitative research methods at undergraduate level and supervise master’s dissertations on the International Development programme.
I have previously taught postgraduate-level research methods (Sheffield Hallam University) and contributed to modules on globalisation and on political and economic geographies (Sheffield Hallam University, University of Nottingham).
- Teaching activities
- GEO21009 Analysing voice, image and text (UG)
- GEO6805 Dissertation with placement (PGT)