Accessibility statement

Manli Zhu
PhD Student



  • PhD Sociology (in progress), University of York
  • MA Social Media and Social Research, University of York
  • BSc Economics, Wuhan Polytechnic University

Manli was trained as an interdisciplinary social scientist, with academic backgrounds in both economics and sociology. Other than in these disciplines, she has also had training in psychology, history and history of art. Due to such a background, she has developed strong interest and passion for topics such as food, visual culture, social research methods, digital culture and consumer culture. After studying these topics in her master’s study and research internship (working with Dr Xiaodong Lin and Professor Sarah Nettleton for their research project: “In Touch with Food”), Manli decided to embark on a research journey at the department to further develop her understanding about these topics.



Research title: Making and Savouring the ‘Insta-glammed’ Eye-candy: Critically Understanding the Production and Consumption Activities of Food Photography on Instagram

Supervisors: Dr Laurie Hanquinet & Dr Daryl Martin

Sharing pictures of food on social media has already become a common practice among British people. Such phenomenon has attracted a lot of media coverage, and many people have pointed out issues related to the photographic practice which are interesting to sociologists. Despite this, such photographic practice on social media received little attention from academic researchers.

Manli hopes to use her research to help to bridge this gap. She plans to use a mixed method approach to study food photography on Instagram. She will also refer to literature from other fields such as visual culture studies, media studies, marketing and digital humanities. She hopes this interdisciplinary approach can allow her to develop an innovative and useful framework, which can help people to understand the social and cultural impact of contemporary photographic practice.

Research title: The Role of Food in Older Adults’ Everyday Life: A Collaborative Initiative with Marks & Spencer (M&S)

Except for her PhD research, Manli is also currently working as a research assistant (together with Manasa Gade) for Dr Xiaodong Lin and Professor Sarah Nettleton’s research project, The Role of Food in Older Adults’ Everyday Life: A Collaborative Initiative with Marks & Spencer (M&S).

The project explores the role of food in adults’ (aged 60 and over) everyday life. It aims to make sense of the meanings of food and its related practices (e.g. sourcing, preparing, eating) throughout the life course and in light of changing individual circumstances and family relations. More specifically, the research team seeks to further understand mundane food related practices as ‘care for the self’ and ‘care for others’ in different life stages.

The research team would also like to encourage conversations with the public about food, age and life course, through a photography exhibition – My Life of Food. This aims to raise awareness of the issue of food and its related practices (e.g. sourcing, preparing, eating) as a form of care, in order to contribute to a broader discussion on healthy ageing and wellness.


Selected publications

Lin, X., Zhu, M., and Nettleton, S. (2017). Enduring 'care' and the shifting cultural meanings of convenience food. 6 December 2017. Discover Society. [Online]. [Accessed 23 January 2018].

PhD student

Contact details

Ms Manli Zhu
PhD Student
Wentworth College
York University
North Yorkshire
YO10 5DD