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The meal as a performance: food and meal practices beyond health and nutrition
Kristianstad University, Research Environment Food and Meals in Everyday Life (MEAL). Kristianstad University, School of Education and Environment, Avdelningen för Mat- och måltidsvetenskap.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7331-1684
Kristianstad University, Research Environment Food and Meals in Everyday Life (MEAL). Kristianstad University, School of Education and Environment, Avdelningen för Humaniora.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2450-066X
Linnaeus University, Kalmar, Sweden.
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2016 (English)In: Ageing & Society, ISSN 0144-686X, E-ISSN 1469-1779, Vol. 30 August, 1-25 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The proportion of elderly people in the population is increasing, presenting a number of new challenges in society. The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate how elderly persons with motoric eating difficulties perceive and perform their food and meal practices in everyday life. By using Goffman's concept of performance as a theoretical framework together with Bourdieu's thinking on habitus, a deeper understanding of food and meal practices is obtained. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 elderly people (aged between 67 and 87 years) and meal observations were carried out with 11 of these people. Participants were found to manage food and meal practices by continuously adjusting and adapting to the new conditions arising as a result of eating difficulties. This was displayed by conscious planning of what to eat and when, avoiding certain foods and beverages, using simple eating aids, but also withdrawing socially during the meals. All these adjustments were important in order to be able to demonstrate proper food and meal behaviour, to maintain the façade and to act according to the perceived norms. As well as being a pleasurable event, food and meals were also perceived in terms of being important for maintaining health and as ‘fuel’ where the main purpose is to sustain life. This was strongly connected to the social context and the ability to enjoy food and meals with family members and friends, which appeared to be particularly crucial due to the impending risk of failing the meal performance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 30 August, 1-25 p.
Keyword [en]
Elderly people, eating difficulties, food and meal practices, meals
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:hkr:diva-16088DOI: 10.1017/S0144686X16000945OAI: diva2:975000
Available from: 2016-09-28 Created: 2016-09-28 Last updated: 2016-09-28Bibliographically approved

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Nyberg, MariaOlsson, ViktoriaWendin, KarinWestergren, Albert
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Research Environment Food and Meals in Everyday Life (MEAL)Avdelningen för Mat- och måltidsvetenskapAvdelningen för HumanioraAvdelningen för SjuksköterskeutbildningarnaResearch Environment PRO-CARE, Patient Reported Outcomes - Clinical Assessment Research and Education
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