Symposium – Call for paper

Sharing meals.

Social aspects of eating an cooking together

Center for Food & Hospitality Research, Institut Paul Bocuse

Ecully (France) – June 14th 2018

Eating involves many other dimensions than just ingesting food. It is especially a social act, as it involves the social position and relationships of the individual in all of the included practices: supplying, cooking, dressing, ordering, ingesting, clearing, washing-up, managing left-overs, etc. (Fischler 1990; Poulain 2002; Warde 2016). Some moments in a day, the meals, are more specifically dedicated to eating with all these dimensions. Thus, all the choices regarding their organization have social implications. Especially, sharing these meals (including all the activities listed before) with other persons has important implications. Indeed, Eating Together is, for the human beings, a way of expressing special relationships – as it can be seen when the meal is used as a diplomatic tool. The term commensality, meaning literally “sharing the table”, can be defined as the fact to eat together (Grignon 2001; Sobal 2000). It is interesting to see that it is often used as a substitute for conviviality, which expresses the pleasure to be together and to discuss around a table (Brillat-Savarin 1825). It is true that eating together is often perceived as a good way of creating good social relationships, or even more to improve the quality of the diet (e.g. Weinstein 2006). Yet, eating together can sometimes also be a difficult time, especially when it was not the person’s choice (e.g. Guérin 2016). This symposium offers to explore, with a social science approach, the different dimensions associated with sharing meals (non exhaustive):

  • Cultural differences in the manners of sharing meals

  • Specificity of the sharing of cooking times regarding the sharing of meal times.
  • Use of commensality as a social action mean.
  • Symbolic representation of the benefits of sharing meals (psychological, physiological, social)
  • Comparison of meals regarding other eating times (snacking).
  • Political/Diplomatic use of meals
  • Organization, perception and role of meals in institutions (school canteens, hospital, nursing homes, prisons …)


  • Brillat-Savarin, Jean Anthelme. 1825. La physiologie du goût. Paris: Sautelet. Fischler, Claude. 1990. L’Homnivore. Paris: Odile Jacob.
  • Grignon, Claude. 2001. « Commensality and Social Morphology: An Essay of Typology ». In Food, Drink and Identity: Cooking, Eating and Drinking in Europe since the Middle Ages, par Peter Scholliers, 23‐33. Berg.
  • Guérin, Laura. 2016. « « Faire manger » et « jouer le jeu de la convivialité » en établissement d’hébergement pour personnes âgées dépendantes (EHPAD). De l’intensification des contraintes de travail pendant le service des repas ». SociologieS, juin.
  • Poulain, Jean-Pierre. 2002. Sociologies de l’alimentation : les mangeurs et l’espace social alimentaire. Paris: Presses universitaires de France.
  • Sobal, Jeffery. 2000. « Sociability and Meals: Facilitation, Commensality, and Interaction ». In Dimensions Of The Meal: Science, Culture, Business, Art, par Herbert L. Meiselman, 119‐33. Springer US. Warde, Alan. 2016. The Practice of Eating. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Weinstein, Miriam. 2006. The Surprising Power of Family Meals: How Eating Together Makes Us Smarter, Stronger, Healthier and Happier. Steerforth Press.

How to submit?

The proposals are to be sent before April 30th 2018

by e-mail to with the object “Call Symposium Sharing Meals”.

These proposals (in english) must contain:

  • A presentation of the author(s)
  • An abstract (300 words max.), mentioning the object of the work, the methods and the main results.
  • The author’s preference for a poster or an oral presentation.

The authors will be informed of the acceptance or refusal of their proposal by 12 May 2018 at the latest. The selection committee is headed by Maxime Michaud and composed by the researchers of the Center for Food and Hospitality Research, Institut Paul Bocuse (Anestis Dougkas, Agnès Giboreau, Jérémie Lafraire, Maxime Michaud, Laure Saulais).

Pratical information

The Symposium will take place at the Institut Paul Bocuse in Ecully (next to Lyon), on June 14th 2018. Fees (covers registration, breaks and lunch):

  • Registration fees: 100 €
  • Reduced fees: 50 € (speakers, students, Research & Innovation Committee Members)
  • Students and researchers at University Lyon II (or members of the LADEC or EVS): 25€

Please note that the organizers are not able to take care of transportation, accommodation or registration fees. However, speakers have access to reduced fees.


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