Title

The Church Supper: An Ethnographic Study

Start Time

15-10-2009 3:45 PM

End Time

15-10-2009 5:15 PM

Abstract

Purpose: To describe and analyze the church supper from an occupational perspective. Methods: This ethnographic study involves participant observation of six consecutive church suppers at the Stratham Community Church in Stratham, NH and interviews with the woman who has organized the suppers for the past 30 years. Observations involved the author and one to two graduate assistants for each supper from noon on the day of the supper through the final cleaning up. Each assisted in various aspects of the supper and took field notes during the observation period. Additional field notes were written within two days of the observation to expand and enhance the notes taken in the field. Analysis to date has been to identify the typical pattern of activities in the preparation, serving, and clean up of the suppers and the tasks of the individuals involved. Results: This study emerged from a larger oral history project in Stratham, NH. One finding from the oral history study was the centrality of community involvement of everyone interviewed. The church supper at the Community Church was one such activity. The explicit purpose of the church supper is to raise funds to support the mission of the church and to provide an inexpensive home-cooked meal for community members. A core group of people has helped the leader since she took over this responsibility from her father. Additional people have joined in the intervening years. This paper will describe one church supper to identify the orchestration of the various tasks involved in preparing, serving, and cleaning-up. Work is divided into three zones of operation. People in the kitchen prepare the salad and main course of the meal and clean up after the supper is over. The dining room crew welcomes and seats guests, serves drinks and desserts, clears the tables and sets up additional places as the evening progresses. These two zones of operation are relatively independent of each other while the serving counter provides an intermediate zone that enables workers and guests to communicate from dining room to kitchen. This paper will raise questions about how activities such as church suppers influence the occupational engagement of those involved.

References

Jonsson, H. (2008). A new direction in the conceptualization and categorization of occupation. Journal of Occupational Science, 15, 3-8. Access Article

Lofland, J., & Lofland, L. H. (1995). Analyzing social settings: A guide to qualitative observation and analysis (3rd. ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American Community. New York: Simon & Schuster.

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Oct 15th, 3:45 PM Oct 15th, 5:15 PM

The Church Supper: An Ethnographic Study

Purpose: To describe and analyze the church supper from an occupational perspective. Methods: This ethnographic study involves participant observation of six consecutive church suppers at the Stratham Community Church in Stratham, NH and interviews with the woman who has organized the suppers for the past 30 years. Observations involved the author and one to two graduate assistants for each supper from noon on the day of the supper through the final cleaning up. Each assisted in various aspects of the supper and took field notes during the observation period. Additional field notes were written within two days of the observation to expand and enhance the notes taken in the field. Analysis to date has been to identify the typical pattern of activities in the preparation, serving, and clean up of the suppers and the tasks of the individuals involved. Results: This study emerged from a larger oral history project in Stratham, NH. One finding from the oral history study was the centrality of community involvement of everyone interviewed. The church supper at the Community Church was one such activity. The explicit purpose of the church supper is to raise funds to support the mission of the church and to provide an inexpensive home-cooked meal for community members. A core group of people has helped the leader since she took over this responsibility from her father. Additional people have joined in the intervening years. This paper will describe one church supper to identify the orchestration of the various tasks involved in preparing, serving, and cleaning-up. Work is divided into three zones of operation. People in the kitchen prepare the salad and main course of the meal and clean up after the supper is over. The dining room crew welcomes and seats guests, serves drinks and desserts, clears the tables and sets up additional places as the evening progresses. These two zones of operation are relatively independent of each other while the serving counter provides an intermediate zone that enables workers and guests to communicate from dining room to kitchen. This paper will raise questions about how activities such as church suppers influence the occupational engagement of those involved.