Navigating discipline and indulgence: the performance of contradiction on Instagram food posts in the Philippines

Kwok Yingchen, Marvin Joseph F. Montefrio, Edson Tandoc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is a contradictory dynamic in how Instagram seems to promote both profligate consumption habits in disregard of health and unprecedented health anxieties where people micromanage every ingredient they consume. Far from inhabiting disparate social worlds, these themes often coalesce within the same image. We argue that this phenomenon reflects consumers’ attempts to navigate a neoliberal double bind that simultaneously pressures them toward both dysfunctional extremes. By emphasizing the centrality of a politics of indulgence to US ideological warfare, especially during the Green Revolution, we interrogate a key limitation of much critical food scholarship in its reductive equation of whiteness and power with food discipline and thinness. We draw on postcolonial scholarship on mestiza/o whiteness and code-switching to argue that neocolonial privilege is better understood as the mobility to code-switch between the vocabularies of discipline and indulgence without being confined to one or the other. Then, we analyze Instagram food posts taken by customers at organic restaurants in urban Philippines, reading them as innovative but never innocent contestations against the double binds of discipline/indulgence and mestiza/o whiteness while highlighting the rich historical and cultural contingency of their meaning-making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)793-813
Number of pages21
JournalFood, Culture and Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the editor and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments, which helped us improve our manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS).


  • Neoliberalism
  • code-switching
  • double bind
  • food porn
  • humor
  • nutritionism
  • organic
  • postcolonialism
  • social media
  • whiteness


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