Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Sociology

Content Description

1 online resource (ix, 327 pages) : 1 illustration.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Glenna D. Spitze

Committee Members

Richard Lachmann, Stephen J. Scanlan


Food Preservation, Food Sovereignty, Foodways, Gender, Gender Division of Household Labor, Home Canning, Canning and preserving, Food

Subject Categories



The practice and popularity of home canning in the United States has dramatically fluctuated since John Mason’s 1858 invention of the ‘fruit’ jar, influenced by cultural trends and sociopolitical events such as war, economic oscillation, activist movements such as environmentalism, and the politicization of food. The contemporary social context in which popular interest in home canning has most recently revived is an era of high cultural awareness and activity regarding multiple food issues. Traditional American foodways, including food preservation techniques such as home canning, are regaining importance as many Americans look to the past for solutions to current needs. This dissertation examines how contemporary practitioners of a traditional foodway experience canning and what meanings it holds for them. Qualitative interviews were conducted with fifty home canners in southeastern Ohio to investigate respondents’ canning histories, motivations to do and perceived benefits of home canning, and the gender division of labor in canning and regular household meals. Respondents’ canning histories were found to vary by age. A wide array of motivations to do and perceived benefits of home canning broadly relating to themes of food sovereignty and personal empowerment were observed. Lastly, this dissertation argues for the expansion of routine meal preparation measures to include domestic food production activities such as home canning and other food preservation techniques in future research on the gender division of household labor. This research contributes to the sociological study of food via exploratory research on contemporary home canning viewed through the lenses of gender and family, work and leisure, culture, and community.

Included in

Sociology Commons