The workplace lunch room: an arena for multi-cultural eating

Anna-Lisa Lindén, Maria Nyberg

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelPeer review

15 Citeringar (Scopus)


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 recognized 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 multicultural 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.

Sidor (från-till)42-48
Antal sidor6
TidskriftInternational Journal of Consumer Studies
StatusPublicerad - 2009
Externt publiceradJa

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