Making mealtimes matter: commensality, collaboration and building relationships beyond our disciplines.
by Marsha Smith, PhD Candidate
Perhaps one of the most ubiquitous manifestations of human sociality is commensality: the human practice of eating together or, to put it more exactly, of eating together in groups. Eating together is a powerful mechanism for reproducing the social values, priorities and roles of a society and is essential for the integration of a society. Indeed, it has been stated that communal meals are perhaps the single most important thing we can do for both our personal wellbeing and the cohesion of society (Dunbar 2016).
New forms of group eating practice, such as ‘social eating’ or the public consumption of surplus foods at mealtimes, suggest that group eating activities can be a socially-organising force for change. This potential for both transforming and maintaining how society is organised is of interest to researchers across disciplines.