With the growing interest in the state of our current food system, food deserts have captured the attention of the public. However, much of the research on food deserts focuses on establishing definitions, understanding food access barriers, and presenting homogenous narratives of food desert life without understanding how residents construct their food environments. This study fills this gap by exploring how residents of food deserts in Cleveland, Ohio define their food environment. It uses theories like Olin Wright's perspective on class, Massey and Denton's explanation of racial residential segregation, Goffman's stigma theory, and Bourdieu's habitus theory. This study provides a fresh perspective by analyzing focus groups and incorporating participant generated photos. The findings suggest that despite the common description of food deserts, certain individuals have constructed "alternative identities." While neighborhoods demonstrate food desert characteristics, participants do not fall victim to structural barriers and actively work to seek out fresh food.


Mariola, Matthew


Sociology and Anthropology


Place and Environment | Regional Sociology


food desert, cleveland, quantiative, food access, food environment

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2012 Rachel Anna Johanson