Foodwork in Newly Married Couples: Making Family Meals

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Foodwork is the labor involved in making meals. We examined foodwork negotiations of twenty newly married couples using qualitative in-depth interviews at the time couples married and again one year later. The findings revealed that dinner decision-making, food shopping, and cooking were linked: partners who cooked dinner were also involved in dinner decision-making and food shopping; those who cooked infrequently rarely chose what the couple ate for family dinners and usually were not involved in shopping. In just under half of the couples, both partners shared in foodwork activities; in just over half, a sole partner (equally divided between men and women) bore primary responsibility for foodwork tasks. Conditions influencing couples' foodwork negotiations included partners' enjoyment of cooking, prior foodwork experiences, employment responsibilities and feedback about one's cooking from one's mate. Only infrequently was the role of primary household foodworker assigned or sought without negotiation. Although many aspects of foodwork appeared to be gender neutral, barbecuing was a gendered, male activity. Foodwork and eating occur in foodspaces, and moving into new residences with improved foodspaces after marriage facilitated foodwork for many couples and influenced foodwork negotiations. Foodwork and foodspaces are useful concepts to consider in examining the making of family meals.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2006

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