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The workplace lunchroom: an arena for multicultural eating

Lindén, Anna-Lisa LU and Nyberg, Maria LU (2009) In International Journal of Consumer Studies 33. p.42-48
Abstract
Many countries in Europe have experienced growing migration since World War II. It is estimated that more than one in five Swedes living today has roots in other countries and cultures. Segregation in terms of ethnic origin in housing areas makes it easier to maintain the language and cultural traditions of the home country when it comes to cooking and eating. In extremely segregated housing areas there may even be no interface between foreign cultural traditions and Swedish traditions in food consumption.

Almost every inhabitant in the age range 20-65 years spends a number of years in workplaces outside the home. Workplaces are generally melting pots for employees of all ages and ethnic groups. In this study, a bus company lunch... (More)
Many countries in Europe have experienced growing migration since World War II. It is estimated that more than one in five Swedes living today has roots in other countries and cultures. Segregation in terms of ethnic origin in housing areas makes it easier to maintain the language and cultural traditions of the home country when it comes to cooking and eating. In extremely segregated housing areas there may even be no interface between foreign cultural traditions and Swedish traditions in food consumption.

Almost every inhabitant in the age range 20-65 years spends a number of years in workplaces outside the home. Workplaces are generally melting pots for employees of all ages and ethnic groups. In this study, a bus company lunch room served as a field for studying preferences in food, meals structure and eating patterns during lunch breaks. The city centre lunch room was visited by every driver at least once during their working day for coffee/tea, lunch or a rest. The lunch room served as an arena for discussions and exposure to new foods customs relating to meals and eating. It thus constituted a place for cultural exchange about food preferences and for forming opinions about individuals and nationalities, including Swedes. The methods for gathering empirical material for the analysis were participant observations and semi-structured interviews.

Food consumption can be recognised as a marker of class and status in the same way as consumption of leisure activities and clothing. Some new criteria in identifying members of we-groups in relation to others can be added to the classical criteria. When language fails in communication, visible signs become more important. A workplace lunch room is a clear arena for attitude formation. Attitudes may be conservative or stereotyped but sometimes evoke the curiosity to eat something different. In a multi-cultural arena such as a workplace lunch room the knowledge available about food, meals and preferences is sometimes far from the real truth, especially when visible impressions are not followed by verbal communication, which can sometimes lead to incomplete and narrow-minded conclusions. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
ethnicity, lunch room, participant observation, identity, food consumption, sociology, sociologi
in
International Journal of Consumer Studies
volume
33
pages
42 - 48
publisher
Wiley-Blackwell
external identifiers
  • wos:000280230700006
ISSN
1470-6431
DOI
10.1111/j.1470-6431.2008.00733.x
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
66581ec5-a128-4251-959e-5f470de5dde4 (old id 1276857)
date added to LUP
2009-01-20 10:46:04
date last changed
2016-04-15 20:21:06
@article{66581ec5-a128-4251-959e-5f470de5dde4,
  abstract     = {Many countries in Europe have experienced growing migration since World War II. It is estimated that more than one in five Swedes living today has roots in other countries and cultures. Segregation in terms of ethnic origin in housing areas makes it easier to maintain the language and cultural traditions of the home country when it comes to cooking and eating. In extremely segregated housing areas there may even be no interface between foreign cultural traditions and Swedish traditions in food consumption.<br/><br>
	Almost every inhabitant in the age range 20-65 years spends a number of years in workplaces outside the home. Workplaces are generally melting pots for employees of all ages and ethnic groups. In this study, a bus company lunch room served as a field for studying preferences in food, meals structure and eating patterns during lunch breaks. The city centre lunch room was visited by every driver at least once during their working day for coffee/tea, lunch or a rest. The lunch room served as an arena for discussions and exposure to new foods customs relating to meals and eating. It thus constituted a place for cultural exchange about food preferences and for forming opinions about individuals and nationalities, including Swedes. The methods for gathering empirical material for the analysis were participant observations and semi-structured interviews. <br/><br>
	Food consumption can be recognised as a marker of class and status in the same way as consumption of leisure activities and clothing. Some new criteria in identifying members of we-groups in relation to others can be added to the classical criteria. When language fails in communication, visible signs become more important. A workplace lunch room is a clear arena for attitude formation. Attitudes may be conservative or stereotyped but sometimes evoke the curiosity to eat something different. In a multi-cultural arena such as a workplace lunch room the knowledge available about food, meals and preferences is sometimes far from the real truth, especially when visible impressions are not followed by verbal communication, which can sometimes lead to incomplete and narrow-minded conclusions.},
  author       = {Lindén, Anna-Lisa and Nyberg, Maria},
  issn         = {1470-6431},
  keyword      = {ethnicity,lunch room,participant observation,identity,food consumption,sociology,sociologi},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {42--48},
  publisher    = {Wiley-Blackwell},
  series       = {International Journal of Consumer Studies},
  title        = {The workplace lunchroom: an arena for multicultural eating},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1470-6431.2008.00733.x},
  volume       = {33},
  year         = {2009},
}