This paper explores how food and eating practices are governed in residential care for young people and who or what governs the table in residential care centres. The governance of everyday food and eating practices in residential care is multifaceted and conducted on multiple levels by external and internal authority and regulation. This paper draws on Coveney’s 2008 theory on ‘the government of the table’ that builds on the Foucauldian perspective of governmentality to explore the interplay between internal and external regulation, which in turn highlights the tensions between institutional and homely aspects of residential care. The approach taken involves an exploratory, sequential mixed-methods design of focused ethnography in five centres, a survey of ninety-two social care practitioners working in the field and a review of Health Information and Quality Authority inspection reports.
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