What Is Commensality? A Critical Discussion of an Expanding Research Field

Håkan Jönsson, Maxime Michaud, Nicklas Neuman
2021 International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health  
Commensality (the act of eating together) is studied in a range of disciplines and often considered important for social communion, order, health and well-being, while simultaneously being understood as in decline (especially the family meal). However, such claims are also contested in various ways. In this paper, we discuss the expanding field of commensality research and critically reflect on the debates surrounding its social functions, including its role in public health. We illuminate the
more » ... eep social and cultural significance of commensality, through time and space, and conclude that whether or not commensality is the preferred social form of eating for any given individual, it is difficult to escape its sociocultural desirability and idealization. As a cross-cultural phenomenon in both past, present, and future, we suggest that commensality deserves further research. This includes commensality as a research topic in itself and as an entry point to unveil different dimensions of social relations between people, as well as interactions between humans and material objects.
doi:10.3390/ijerph18126235 pmid:34207626 fatcat:v4vzofdov5ga7if7jmzmds2xee