Commensality and the construction of family identity across two cities

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


Domestic commensality, or eating together, is part of family identity practice forming part of what it means to be a family (James et. al 2009, Jackson 2015). This mundane practice has been seen as shaping the collective (family, community, cultural), relational (between family members) as well as individual (self) identities (Epp and Price 2012). We adopt a visual (Rose 2003) and narrative approach, using photographs of family meals taken by the participants as they compose and capture their weekday evening meal experiences in a self-directive way (Kedzior, et al 2016).
The image of the Christian white nuclear family, all gathered together around the dining table in the Norman Rockwell painting ‘Freedom from want’ still dominates the ‘western’ imaginary (Chambers 2001). The self-directed photographs we collected form a starting point for family interviews that focus on the shifting definitions of ‘family’ and actual practices of family meal times in Sydney and Edinburgh. This provides a direct window into the mealtime practices offering an insight into how commensality reinforces ideas of particular family identities through participant narratives of the photographs. It explores how families use mealtimes to develop social self-regulation and eating rituals while simultaneously reinforcing the social bond between members of a family. We see how these family rituals are fluid allowing for the enfolding of individual identities and how participants ‘see themselves’ in these compositions of the family.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventBSA Annual Conference - Newcastle, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 Apr 201812 Apr 2018


ConferenceBSA Annual Conference
CountryUnited Kingdom

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