This article develops a rhetorical analysis of how older adults in Canada and the UK engage with civic-moral imperatives of healthy living. The analysis draws on Burke’s concepts of ‘symbolic hierarchies’ and the ‘rhetoric of rebirth’ to explore how participants discursively negotiate the moralizing framework of self-regulation and self-improvement central to healthy eating discourse, in particular. Working from the premise that healthy eating is a ‘principle of perfection’ that citizens are encouraged to strive to achieve, the article traces the vocabularies and logical distinctions of ‘guilt’, ‘purification’ and ‘redemption’ in participants’ accounts of what healthy eating means to them. This analysis reveals some of the complex, situated and often strategic ways in which they rearticulate and reconfigure the normative imperatives of healthy eating in ways suited to their lived experience and their priorities for health and well-being in older age.
Bibliographical note© 2012 The Author(s)
- healthy eating
- Kenneth Burke
- positive ageing