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Sociology: Research


FRIED/University of Sydney Commensality workshop

FRIED/University of Sydney Commensality workshop
Speaker: Prof David Marshall # University of Edinburgh; Speaker: Prof JaneMaree Maher # Monash University; Speaker: Dr Valeria Skafida # University of Edinburgh; Speaker: Prof Mary Brennan # University of Edinburgh; Speaker: Prof Teresa Davis # University of Sydney
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Date and Time
31st May 2018 09:45 - 31st May 2018 12:45
Lecture theatre 2 , University of Edinburgh Business School, 29 Buccleuch Place, EH8 9JS

This event will take the form of four presentations on the theme of eating together:

JaneMaree Maher (Skype)

‘Seeing’ families do food at home and school: connection/relationship and disjunction'

This paper draws on an in-depth multi-method study with 50 families in Victoria Australia, that included video clips and interviews with children and parents. Primary school children were asked about food knowledge from school. Generally, both children and parents felt school food messages are unclear and contradictory. But they also felt that the family was the most important place for the development of healthy food knowledges and practices. Using visual data alongside interview data, it was clear that families focused on family and children’s eating in a pragmatic, practical and interconnected way, infused with love and nurturance as well as concern. We argue their practices can be seen as a form of relational consumption (Lindsay & Maher 2013) where food is part of the intimate everyday exchange of love and care. There is a significant disjunct between familial relational approaches and the regulatory framework of school food messages, evident in the images of lunchboxes with discrete sections and surrounding rules and regulations.

Mary Brennan

‘Plate Waste Tales’

Valeria Skafida

‘Family meals and healthy eating among young children in Scotland - deconstructing the family meal’

Abstract: Public health recommendations in the UK often suggest that eating sit-down meals with their families can be beneficial for children's health. A vast literature focusing on the beneficial aspects of family meals has also helped glorify this process more generally among food scholars. Yet, it is not clear what it is about the family meal which could have a potential protective effect on children's diets, and whether this is to do with where, how or what food is being eaten. This paper uses nationally representative survey data for Scotland to look at the habits of circa 2200 5-year olds in an effort to understand if and why family meals may be associated with better diets in children.

 Teresa Davis and David Marshall

‘Do we still gather round the table? Commensality in two cities'

Eating together, or commensality, is part of identity practice and family meals form part of what it means to be a family (James et. al 2009, Jackson 2012). These seemingly mundane ‘everyday’ events contribute to collective (family, social, cultural), relational (between family members) and individual (self) identities (Epp and Price 2012).  This research uses qualitative and interpretative research methods to collect new data on everyday family week day meals, using photographs of the family midweek evening meal taken by the participants themselves followed by interviews with the families. The focus is on ‘nuclear’ families, ten families with children, across SES, constitution, and ethnicity living in Sydney and Edinburgh.

A key aim of this session is to help build links with researchers at the University of Sydney and the Australian Food, Society and Culture Network.