Understanding of the Intra-Household Resource Allocation. Process and Its Relation to Food Insecurity

Academic Paper, 2014

32 Pages, Grade: 1,1



This research is to examine patterns of intra-household resource allocation amongst the families supported by Imam Khomeini Relief Committee, applying a qualitative and interpretative approach and using conventional content analysis. It is also seeking to provide answer to the question of how the intra-household resource allocation process is formed and whether or not it is unequal. The anthropological analysis of the intra-household resource allocation process indicates that in addition to financial constraints, the cultural factors also limit the people’s access to intra-household resources. Much more beyond the economic and environmental elements, the pattern of intra-household resource allocation is under influence of cultural factors as well. This study conducted 30 semi-structured and profound interviews with female-headed household through a purposeful sampling approach.

The content analysis of interviews indicates that cultural norms suggest different roles for men and women in a wide range of aspects from food production to decision-making on food consumption. Accordingly, intra-household resource allocation will vary based on the individuals’ role, position, and gender.

Keywords: Anthropology of food, food insecurity, intra-household resource allocation, conventional content analysis.

1. Introduction

Food insecurity is a concept that has developed in the course of time. In 1999, International Food Policy Research Institute1 listed almost 200 definitions on the basis of 450 food indicators. According to the definition released by World Bank (1986), the food security means access of all people to sufficient food at all times to enjoy an active and healthy life and this ensures the strength and reliability of access to food through ways acceptable to society. According to the FAO (2002), the food security is a situation in which all people at all times have physical and economical access to sufficient, healthy nutritious food, because it meets their food requirements and nutrition preferences for an active healthy life.

Food Insecurity is defined as "the inability or uncertainty to acquire or consume sufficient food qualitatively or quantitatively, through the ways acceptable to the society" (Radimer and others, 1992). Sufficient food means that the people nutrition shall include all nutrients that body requires. Nutrients provide raw materials for cellular metabolism, survival, growth, health and resistance to disease as well as necessary energy for physical and mental work; if people diet does not contain enough micronutrients, they will suffer from food insecurity and disease which are actually caused by food shortage. Should this situation develop, it will hurt the community health in long term. The increase of the number of people who are suffering from malnutrition leads to disorder in different parts of society the compensation of which is very difficult and sometimes impossible.

As food and nutrition are concepts of extensive meaning, such is the food insecurity. One of the influential issues in food insecurity is how to allocate intra-household resource, to such an extent that one of food security classification has been done based on household consumption and the diversity and abundance of food classes as well as data related to food resources.

Household food security refers to the family capability which guarantees their access to sufficient and safe food at all times of the year. Thus, the household food security is a key factor in determining the family members’ nutrition status. The inability of families or their certain members to access adequate food resources to meet their basic needs leads to food insecurity. The families’ food insecurity might be short -term and caused by limited access to food, while severe food insecurity represents the long-term shortage of food and thereby bears a significant influence which may be more difficult to control.

There are several indicators for food insecurity used to assess and examine food insecurity in various levels. In the intra-household resource allocation literature, the terms "resource" involves the basic concepts such as: food, health care, education, material objects, etc., (Lawrence Haddad. 1997). The term "allocation" denotes that one or more persons control the food distribution, health care and other sources. The study of food security includes not only evident factors such as family income, the number of family members and environmental elements, but also innate factors including family head gender/allocator, family members’ gender and age, resource allocation rules and principles, food consumption patterns, social capital, beliefs and food behavior, and cultural assumptions about the family members nutrition preferences.

The outcomes of intra-household resource allocation determine the degree of food security and people’s health, which affects other activities of the people. In view of this fact, the study of how the intra-household resource allocation influences on food insecurity has been raised as a necessity, and so is the recognition of family structure pattern.

2. Review of Body of Knowledge and Background of Intra-household Resource Allocation and Food Insecurity in Iran

In Iran various researches has been carried out on Food Insecurity, such as research done by Mohammad Zadeh et al (1389), ZerafatiShoa' et al (1384) and etc., which are mainly categorized in the fields of nutrition, health, agriculture, economics, and demographics. The numerous

nutritional surveys done in recent years have shown that our country is faced with various nutritional deficiencies, including protein-energy malnutrition, iron deficiency, anaemia, disorders caused by iodine deficiency, zinc deficiency, calcium, vitamin A, B2, and D deficiencies. These nutrition problems endanger the country's development process by adverse socioeconomic and health consequences such as increased morbidity and mortality, increased healthcare costs, reduced IQ and learning ability, reduced working capability and generally reduce mental and physical abilities. Review of changes in income, prices, and food cost in recent years indicates that on one hand the family's food basket has become smaller, and on the other side, it has been considerably displaced. The end result is that the abdominal satiation has been stabilized at the expense of cell fullness (Kimiagar, 1384). For example, according to a study done by Ghasemi et al. (1375), 67% of the population investigated in Tehran suffered from moderate food insecurity and 13% others from severe food insecurity. The study done by Ramesh et al (1387) in Shiraz indicated that the food insecurity prevalence in households under investigation was %44. In this study, the food insecurity was examined in association with variables such as the families' socioeconomic status and the household head educational level. Investigation of changes in income, prices, and food cost in recent years indicates that, on one hand, household food basket hasbecome smaller, and on the other hand, it has been considerably displaced to such an extent that households have been led from cell satiety level to abdominal fullness level (Taghavi and Nakhjivani, 1379).

3. Research Method

3-1. Methodological Approach

Access to information on topics that varies culturally or from one person to another, that can be hardly remembered by people, such as intro-family resource allocation, requires a multilateral methodological approach. Based on its objectives and nature of the topic, this article has selected the qualitative methodological approach amongst quantitative, qualitative and mixed methodological approaches (Scrimshaw). Because, in order to achieve the household food insecurity experience and a deep understanding of resource allocation phenomenon and food insecurity, it is appropriate to use quantitative method (semi-structured interviews using open interviews) with the phenomenological approach. By doing so, we are able to review the food insecurity experience and the social psychological consequences associated with it in individual and household level and show how the experiences are affecting the household decision-making and prioritization systems related to food insecurity management.

3-2. Management and Analysis of Data through Conventional Content Analysis

In current study, a qualitative content analysis has being used to manage and analyze data. Content analysis is a wildly-used qualitative research technique as well as a kind of encoding which is based on conceptual and operational definition of variables. The common applications of qualitative content analysis present three distinguished approaches based on the task degree of inductive reasoning: conventional, conductive, and synoptic. In conventional qualitative content analysis, the classifications of encryption (encoding) are derived directly from the data body.

This approach has been also used to develop contextual theory (Hsieh and Shannon, 2005). To collect data, profound and open-ended questions have been used. During the analysis, the data has been repeatedly read to approach the deep perception and overall concept(Tesch,1990) Then, the data has been read word by word in order to be decoded (Mills and Huberman, 1994; Morgan, 1993; Morse, 1993) and by doing so; we will obtain key concepts and ideas. The researcher's notes on his initial perception and analysis of text, helps him/her approach the text. As the process continues, labels are obtained for codes that represent one or more critical thinking directly resulted from the text itself and the encoding original layout. Then the codes arecategorized based on their types of communication and connection. These categories are also used to organize the codes in meaningful clusters (Coffey & Atkinson, 1996; Patton, 2002). In thismethod, the researcher can include unlimited number of sub-categories in a series of limited ones. Finally, three-diagram is drawn to organize the categories in a classified structure (Morse & Field, 1995).

In conventional qualitative content analysis, relevant theories or other finding are discussed in the sections titled as conclusions and discussion. An advantage of conventional content analysis is that the information is obtained directly from data without using definite categories or a given theory, and the knowledge obtained from this analysis is based on each participant's unique perspective and rooted in the actual data.

3-3. How to Call for Participants

In qualitative research, the sampling is carried out based on concepts that will emerge during the study (Azkiya, 1390). Participants of this study have been selected by Judgmental. Sampling based on the theoretical saturation principle. Therefore, the community under this study consisted of 30 households selected from those supported by Imam Khomeini Relief Committee of Tehran, Districts 11 and 12, and interviews were conducted with female-headed households. Households were consisted of two-or-three-person families and more. Because of the intensity of women's references to Relief Committee and the lack of cooperation by households' male heads, all informants of the study were female heads. Participants' age range was between 40 and 7o. All interviews were conducted at office space of Relief Committee, Districts 11 and 12. Because of legal restrictions on Imam Khomeini Relief Committee, there was no possibility to attend at the households' residential places, and as a result to make a participatory observation. Therefore, the data collection was dependent on open and semi-structured interviews.

To perform interview with participants, a set of questions was initially prepared as interview form, which included some questions about household general information such as the number of members, income, etc. Such questions were flexible in terms of the participants; individual characteristics and type of the conversations exchanged so that they could provide the possibility of developing new questions if further inquiry was required. In addition, as mentioned earlier, due to exclusion of participatory observation from data collection process, it was necessary to perform longer interviews. Some characteristics of participants are shown in Table 1:

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Understanding of the Intra-Household Resource Allocation. Process and Its Relation to Food Insecurity
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ISBN (eBook)
Food Insecurity, Anthropology of Health, Nutritional Anthropology, intra-household Resource Allocation
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Mona Dorani (Author), 2014, Understanding of the Intra-Household Resource Allocation. Process and Its Relation to Food Insecurity, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1003302


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