School meal sociality or lunch pack individualism? Using an intervention study to compare the social impacts of school meals and packed lunches from home.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

The present article specifies and broadens our understanding of the concept of commensality by investigating what it means to ‘share a meal’. The study utilizes a school meal intervention carried out in Denmark in 2011/2012. It shows how different types of school meal arrangement influence the social life of a school class, and how these arrangements involve strategies of both inclusion and exclusion. Two types of school meals are compared in the intervention study: a hot meal based on Nordic ingredients and the normal Danish school meal arrangement in which children bring lunch packs to school. The study discusses commensality by examining and comparing lunchtime interactions within the same group of children in the two contrasting meal situations. The results fail to confirm the conventional view that shared meals have greater social impacts and benefits than eating individualized foods. The article argues that the social entrepreneurship involved in sharing individual lunch packs might even outweigh some of the benefits of shared meals where everyone is served the same food.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Science Information
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)394-416
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2015

    Research areas

  • Former LIFE faculty - commensality, culture , eating , food , individualization , meals , social , sharing

ID: 138218207