Associations between meal complexity and social context in four Nordic countries

Nina Kahma, Johanna Mäkelä, Mari Niva, Thomas Bøker Lund

    Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelPeer review


    Contemporary eating is often portrayed by images of snacking, solitary grazing, disintegration of sociability, demise of family meals, and increasingly irregular eating patterns – what Claude Fischler has famously described as gastroanomy. Inspired by the concept of eating system, this article contributes to the discussion about the ongoing changes by examining the relation between meal complexity, sociability and the duration of meals in contemporary Nordic societies. We examine the differences in meal complexity between four Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, focusing on two main meals, lunch and dinner. The analysis builds on the concept of eating system, examining the effect sociability has on meal complexity. In the end we ask whether complexity can better be explained by social context, or if it, rather, results from social differentiation. The data (N=8248) are drawn from the Food in Nordic Everyday Life survey conducted in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden in 2012. The Finns and Swedes typically had two hot meals a day, whereas the Danes and Norwegians only had one. Moreover, the differences in the complexity were the greatest in hot dinners, the Danes and the Swedes having the most elaborate dinners. A marked proportion of meals were eaten within structured conditions either at workplace or home. The presence of any commensal partners increased the complexity of hot dinners, as did the longer duration of the meal. Situational factors were important in explaining differences in meal complexity, but social background, apart from age, did not convey many significant differences.
    TidskriftAnthropology of Food
    Antal sidor20
    StatusPublicerad - 2014
    MoE-publikationstypA1 Tidskriftsartikel-refererad


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