Sociology of food: "What did you have for dinner?“ Empirical Questions and Procedures


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A lecture given in Helsinki in a seminar organized by Alan Warde

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  • 3.2 The future of breakfast   Turning now to eating habits, we look first at the ‘time-geography’ (the when and where) of eating. The first question to answer then is when do people eat? An example from the UK, the chart shows that the proportion of people eating at certain fixed times of the day has flattened out over the last two decades and that more people eat at different times during the day. In general, family life appears to have been much more structured in 1961 than it is now, and mealtimes provided the clearest indication of this. The chart here shows that not only have the sharp peaks in the proportion eating at certain times flattened out the troughs observed in 1961 have risen, as more people eat at other times of day. We know from other sources that our data here reflects a move away from regular eating patterns (more snacking) as well as possibly reflecting a tendency for today’s families to eat regular meals at a wider range of times than previously. Breakfast constitutes a really interesting example. According to Future Foundation research conducted in the UK (home of traditionally the fullest version in Europe), the breakfast ‘window’ is ‘stretching’ with the idea of a typical breakfast time of 7.30 to 8.30 disappearing. People are having breakfast at a wider range of times in the morning. This largely depends on the demands of families and employers with, for example, adults with children showing more flexible morning routines. Approximately 20% of people completely forego breakfast and the idea of a happy family breakfast – where all family members sit down together – may have disappeared for now: the majority of kids (six out of ten) either do not have breakfast or do not eat with their parents. However, contrary to popular opinion, the vast majority of people when they do eat breakfast do so at home. Two-thirds of under 35s, meanwhile, wish they had more time for breakfast each day. With these trends in mind, we believe breakfast could be in for something of a revival as people increasingly understand the social and health-related importance of it. People may begin to see breakfast as a ‘day-organiser’. We also see breakfast becoming more cosmopolitan and experimental with the variation in time, place, company and content continuing to grow.
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  • POMM 162 Food Sociology TCHT-UOT-Karen Ho
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  • Sociology of food: "What did you have for dinner?“ Empirical Questions and Procedures

    1. 1. EATING: COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVES A Colloquium at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies Helsinki, May 23-25, 2012“What’ did you have for dinner?“ Empirical Questions and Procedures Prof. Jean-Pierre Poulain sociologue et anthropologue Chair of Food Studies: Foods, Cultures and Health Taylor’s-Toulouse University Center
    2. 2. • "Despite all the progress made in human nutrition, it is important to recognize that the measurement of what is truly eaten by individuals remains the most difficult to realize in this discipline." Jean-François Desjeux, 1996
    3. 3. One central question of sociology• How to be sure that what is being said to you, is not a discourse build for a sociologist?
    4. 4. The “destructuration” of french meal and the Plasticity of Empirical data• 1979, Claude Fischler « Gastro-anomie »• Nicolas Herpin & Martine Chaudron, 1988• 1993, Claude Grignon « L’alimentation des étudiants »• 1997, Credoc « Le repas à la française résiste » and the results could be interpret in the other sense. Credoc Newsletter Le Monde• Jean Pierre Poulain, 1995, 1998, 2002, 2008, 2010 Simplification continuously since 1995
    5. 5. Claude Fischler• « Le repas composé et commensal est pratiquement en voie de disparition aux Etats-Unis. Dans les familles de couche moyenne citadines, il arrive que l’on ne se trouve réunis autour de la table du dîner familial que deux ou trois fois par semaine et le repas ne dure guère alors plus de vingt minutes. Les mêmes travaux montrent que la moyenne du nombre de prises alimentaires (food contact) dans la journée est d’une vingtaine et que, dés lors, le rythme supposé des trois repas quotidiens n’est plus qu’une survivance. Des phénomènes, peut être du même ordre quoique d’une échelle moindre, sont d’ores et déjà observables en Europe...» (1979).• "The organize and commensal meal is virtually disappearing in the United States. In the urban middle class families, sometimes we do is gathered around the family dinner table for two or three times a week and the meal did not last longer than twenty minutes. The same studies show that the average number of eating (food contact) during the day is about twenty and that, henceforth, the assumed rate of three meals a day is more than survival. Phenomena, may be similar, although a smaller scale, are already being seen in Europe ... "(1979).
    6. 6. French student’s Food Habits (Grignon 1993, 312)• N = 4530 sample, N = return 1788• Auto reporting data during a week meals and extra-prandial food intakes• Results : – There is no evidence of multiplication of intermediate pauses ("pot", "coffee break", appetizer, etc..) even in the days when a meal is missing“ « On ne constate pas de multiplication des pauses intermédiaires (« pot », « pause-café », apéritif, etc.) même dans les journées où il manque un repas »). – “To eat normally, it is also not eating, or eat as little as possible between the meals” « Manger normalement c’est aussi ne pas manger, ou manger le moins possible « en dehors des repas ».
    7. 7. Beyond commun sens• « En effet les étudiants, qui sont à la fois des jeunes en rupture (non établis, non « posés », réputés portés à la transgression et à la contestation, etc.) et des précurseurs sérieux (dans la mesure où ils ont de bonnes chances d’appartenir par la suite aux classes dominantes), représentent le cas le plus favorable pour observer les usages relatifs aux rythmes des pauses alimentaires, et l’émergence éventuelle d’un nouveau modèle ».• “Students, who are both young out (not established, not" posed "deemed likely to transgression and contestation, etc..) and precursors serious (to the extent that they have good likely to belong to the later ruling classes), represent the most favorable case to observe the customs relating to the rhythms of food breaks, and the possible emergence of a new model“.
    8. 8. “What did you eat yesterday at lunch?”• What happen, when the person interviewed have not done what he use to do ?• 2 solutions: – The first one is to answer what he used to do…. – The second one what he really did.• The consequence is a normalization in the statistical sense of results
    9. 9. Between qualitative and quantitative taking in account implicit meaning • The questionnaire first ask: What is for your a proper breakfast, (lunch, diner)?, (Proper meal of Mary Douglas) • Then, helps one to reconstruct the previous day, making it clear that what interests us is what really happened the day before • Each intake is described in terms of composition of place, social context, temporality ...
    10. 10. What are the dimensions of the problem?• At the questionnaire level • At the data collection – What is the status of the level collected variables? – The dilemma between – How to help the coast and quality interviewed to rebuild the – From observation to self food events reporting – The relation between – The illusion of declaration norms and practices versus practices – Food days – Budget time
    11. 11. • Reconstruction followingthe day life• Using the silence as atools
    12. 12. Data Collection Declared Opinion Values Practices Direct- Indirect- Reconstructed Norms Symbolsobserved observed Conscience PracticesPractices Practices Attitudes Observed Declared Data Data Practices Representations Practices Representations
    13. 13. Implantation horaire des prises 2006706050403020100 0-1H 2-3H 4-5H 6-7H 8-9H 10 - 11 H 12 - 13 H 14 - 15 H 16 - 17 H 18 - 19 H 20 - 21 H 22 - 23 H % Petit déjeuner % Déjeuner % Diner % Hors Repas
    14. 14. The breakdown of set mealtimes % eating or drinking, in or out of home, by time of day, all days, 7.00am to Midnight Nb: Datapoints relate to 30 mins following time given, e.g. 7.00 am = 7.00 am to 7.30 am30 % 1961 20012520151050 6.00 am 7.00 am 8.00 am 9.00 am 10.00 am 11.00 am Noon 1.00 pm 2.00 pm 3.00 pm 4.00 pm 5.00 pm 6.00 pm 7.00 pm 8.00 pm 9.00 pm 10.00 pm 11.00 pm Midnight Source: BBC/ONS/nVision Base: 545/654 adults in households with children, UK
    15. 15. How to collecte data?• Observation• Face to face• Cati system• Self-reporting by internet• Self-reporting paper
    16. 16. Jean-Pierre Poulain
    17. 17. Comparison between norms, reconstruct practices and observed practices (Poulain et al. 1995) What was Reconstruct practices Practices your lunch 19yesterday ?
    18. 18. Breakfast: normes 27%  Le modèle PDJ anglo-saxon dominant PDJ continental 52%8% Autres formules PDJ continental  Montée du PDJ anglo-saxon » 27% PDJ simplifié  Apparition d’une 13% 52% formule de petit déjeuner simplifiée (laitage) :13%
    19. 19. Petit déjeuner : les pratiques  Le PDJ continental est + fort dans les pratiques que dans les normes 57% 7% contre 52% PDJ anglo-saxon 57%11% Autres formules PDJ continental  Le modèle simplifié + fort dans les pratiques que PDJ simplifié dans les normes 25% contre 13%  Le PDJ anglo-saxon est + 25% faible dans les pratiques que dans les normes 7% contre 27%
    20. 20. Breakfast :gape between norms and practices Normes Simplifié 10% 2% 5 1 Simplifié 8% Continental Anglosaxon 1% 4 6 Pratiques 40% 2 6% 13% 4% 7 3 8 Anglosaxon Source : Poulain et al.,2001
    21. 21. Lunch : the norms Repas complets 61% 36%  Attachment to the full lunch Entrée+PG+F+Dessert Entrée+PG+Dessert 25% norm 61% Autres Plat unique Entrée+PG (Grosse) entrée+Dessert2% PG+Dessert 7% 3% 8% 18%Repas simplifiées 38% 24Source : Poulain et al., 2001.
    22. 22. Lunch : the practices Repas complets 37% 16%  Strong lunch 5% Entrée+PG+Fromage+Dessert simplifications (63%) 5% Autre 21%  Full lunch is weaker in Sandwich 2% Entrée+PG+Dessert Entrée+Dessert the practices (37%) Plat Unique Entrée+PG 12% PG+Dessert  Emerging pattern « Main dish (PG)+ 5% dessert » (33%) Repas simplifiés 63% 33% 25Source : Poulain et al.,2001.
    23. 23. 70,0 60,0 40,0 50,0 30,0 20,0 0,0 10,0 1 à2H 2 à3H 3 à4H 4 à5H 5 à6HSource : Poulain et al.,2001. 6 à7H 7 à8H 8 à9H 9 à 10 H 10 à 11 H 11 à 12 H 12 à 13 H 13 à 14 H 14 à 15 H 15 à 16 H 16 à 17 H 17 à 18 H 18 à 19 H 19 à 20 H 20 à 21 H 21 à 22 H 22 à 23 H Food intakes time table 23 à 24 H 0 à1H Rrepas Hors repas 27
    25. 25. Evolution of structure of meals, 1996, 2002, 2008 1996 2002 2008 30
    26. 26. Comparison between face to face and cati 80 70 60 50 Norme INPES 40 Prat% Linéaire (Norme ) Linéaire (INPES) 30 Linéaire (Prat ) 20 10 0 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 Jean-Pierre Poulain
    27. 27. Direction de la santé en Polynésie française Université de Toulouse II
    28. 28. Direction de la santé en Polynésie française Université de Toulouse II
    29. 29. Social Position (level of education and income) and linked variables Niveau scolaire+ Urbains Poids normal 16/25 ans Maigreur -1/2 maohi 9.4% Popaa Aucun ascendant maohi Demi IMC moyen = 24.69 Niveau de revenu + IMC moyen = 29.10 100% Maohi 50.6% Moins de 35 ans IMC moyen = 29.92 61 ans et + +1/2 maohi Obésité Ruraux 100% Maohi 22.3% 17.6% Se définisse Maohi Surpoids 51/60 ans IMC moyen = 31.6 Niveau scolaire - Direction de la santé en Polynésie française Université de Toulouse II
    30. 30. BMI and social position (level of education and income) Capital scolaire et économique et IMC 60,0 56,6 51,8 50,0 38,6 39,3 40,0 33,3 30,9 27,9 26,9 25,9 30,0 23,9 17,6 20,0 14,1 8,2 10,0 2,6 1,9 0,5 0,0 Scolaire et eco faible Scolaire et eco Scolaire faible et eco Scolaire fort moyen fort Maigreur Poids normal Surpoids Obésité Direction de la santé en Polynésie française Université de Toulouse II
    31. 31. The populations IMC moyen et sentiment identitaire35 29,8 27,4230 24,45 23,32520151050 Maohi Demi Popaa Tinito Direction de la santé en Polynésie française Université de Toulouse II
    32. 32. Number of meals and corpulence (BMI)60 %H 48 45 Maigreur40 35 38 31 34 33 24 28 24 26 26 Poids normal20 Surpoids 4 1 3 1 Obésité 0 2p sem/2p dim 2p sem/3p dim 3p sem/2p dim 3p sem/3p dim Jean Pierre Poulain, université de Toulouse 37
    33. 33. Conclusion• The study of the food models must be committed on the scientific mode, with the manner of the ethno-sciences studying the pharmacopeia or the medical practices of traditional ethnicities. It is the point of view of the ecological anthropology which seeks to put at the day the interest certain empirical choices. The relations between nutritional sciences and socio- anthropology of the food can consider under new point of view. Knowledge of nutritional sciences must be put at the service of the improvement of a food model to seek the conditions of reduction health risks, in the respect of there gustatory, symbolic and cultural dimensions .• Jean-Pierre Poulain, « Combien de repas par jour ? Normes culturelles et normes médicales en Polynésie Française », Journal des Anthropologues, 2006, n° 106-107, p. 245-268. Jean Pierre Poulain, université de Toulouse 38
    34. 34. Some References J.-P. Poulain, Sociologie de l’obésité, PUF, 2009. J.-P. Poulain, Sociologies de l’alimentation, PUF, 2005. J.-P. Poulain et E. Neirinck, Histoire de la cuisine et des cuisiniers, Lanore, 2004. J.-P. Corbeau et J.-P. Poulain, Penser l’alimentation, entre imaginaire et rationalité, Privat, 2002. J.-P. Poulain, Manger aujourd’hui, Attitudes, normes et pratiques, Privat, 2001. J.-P. Poulain, « Eléments de sociologie de l’alimentation et de la nutrition », in A. Basdevant, M. Laville et E. Lerebours, Traité de nutrition clinique, Flammarion, 2001. « French gastronomie, french gastronomies », in Goldstein D. et Merkele K., 2005, Culinary cultures of Europe Identity, Diversity and dialogue, Éditions du Conseil de l’Europe, p. 157-170. Site Internet :
    35. 35. • Most of the informations of this PPT come from Dictionnaire des cultures alimentaires, PUF, oct. 2012Some Publications in EnglishBooks chapter• "The sociology of gastronomic decolonisation", in Shanta Nair-Venugopal, 2011, The Gaze of the West: Framings of the East, Palgrave Macmillan• “The social and a cultural aspects of the issues at stake in modern farming”, in Gleize J.-F., 2010, Tomorrow’s World Needs The Farmers, Editions de L’Aube, p. 191-230.• “French gastronomy, French gastronomies”, in Culinary Heritage and Diversity in Europe, published by The European Council, 2005.Articles• Pigeyre M., Duhamel A., Poulain J.-P., Rousseaux J., Barbe P., Jeanneau S., Tibère L., Romon M., 2011, "Influence of social factors on weight-related behaviours according to gender in the French adult population", Appetite, Volume 58, Issue 2, April 2012, Pages 703–709• Fournier T, Bruckert E, Czernichow S, Paulmyer A, Poulain JP, "The THEMA Study: a socio-demographic survey of hyper-cholesterolaemic individuals", with, Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 2011, 24-6, 572-582.• "Gastronomic Heritages and Their Tourist Valorisations", in West meets east: a recipe of success in this era of globalisation, Revue Tourisme, October 2008, pp. 1-18• « The contemporary diet in France: « de-structuration » or from commensalism to « vagabond feeding », Appetite, 2002, 39, 43-55.