Title

Family practice and mealtime occupation: A literature review

Location

Merritt Room

Start Time

3-10-2015 1:00 PM

End Time

3-10-2015 2:30 PM

Session Type

Research Paper

Abstract

Scholars have been interested in the experience of participation in occupations related to family mealtime including eating and feeding as well as preparing, cooking and serving meals. Often, the study of family mealtime has been embedded in research of family daily routines with little focus on unpacking mealtime occupations themselves. This is problematic because it implies family mealtime occupations lack complexity and do not require further attention to detail. However this could be further from the truth. In fact family mealtime occupations are very complex and often involve transactions through multiple social contexts and social relations at a given time (Larson & Zemke, 2003; Mason, 2015).

Family mealtime occupations are conceptualized as components of family mealtime practice. They are co-constructed through family member participation in culturally meaningful activities and are constantly evolving based on the complexity of the social relations and social context of the given mealtime occupation. They include participation in meals as well as, procuring, preparing, and serving food and cleanup.

Morgan’s (2011) concept of family practice suggests families are not a static group of people acting apart from each other, but a dynamic process complete with practices that are constantly changing and recreated. Family is the lens through which social activities are studied, not an individual family member as ‘the voice’ for describing family processes (Morgan). His concepts allow for a broader view of family processes and multiple methods for data collection and analysis. Therefore, Morgan’s concepts of family practice were used as a framework to synthesize literature on qualitative family mealtime research.

The purpose of this paper is to provide a critical literature review of the occupational science research on family mealtime to better understand the state of qualitative research on this topic. The criteria included: qualitative peer-reviewed research articles that describe how family members organize and interact through their own family mealtime practices or studies that describe family mealtime occupations; research conducted in Western countries; and research that addressed an in-depth discussion of family mealtime occupations. Five of ten articles were omitted from the original search because while family mealtime was discussed, it was not the focus of the study. Data analysis included the exploration of theoretical approach, methods utilized, and characteristics of participants in each study. Findings included absence of identified family theoretical approaches, use of primarily interviews as methods, and perspectives of women, parents and caregivers as participants. There was little focus on occupation, little variety in methods, and more emphasis on the lived experiences of the individual.

With the lack of emphasis on occupation in these studies, moving forward it is important for family mealtime researchers to use appropriate methods, such as ethnographic methods through the lens of the transactional perspective (Bailliard, Aldrich, & Dickie, 2013), to closely examine the complex relationship of family mealtime occupations and their contexts within a given situation. This coupled with Morgan’s concept of family practice will shift the focus from individual to the occupation and can provide more insight to the family mealtime research.

References

Bailliard, A., Aldrich, R. M., & Dickie, V. A. (2013). Ethnography and the Transactional Studyof Occupation. In M. P. Cutchin & V. A. Dickie (Eds.), Transactional Perspectives on Occupation, pp. 157-167. Springer.

Larson, E. A. & Zemke, R. (2003). Shaping the temporal patterns of our lives: The socialcoordination of occupation, Journal of Occupational Science, 10, 80-89. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14427591.2003.9686514

Mason, A. E. (2015) The impact and transactional nature of social relations on occupation:Change in mealtime across social contexts. Unpublished manuscript.

Morgan, D. (2011) The original argument, Rethinking Family Practices, pp. 1-13. NewYork: Palgrave.

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Oct 3rd, 1:00 PM Oct 3rd, 2:30 PM

Family practice and mealtime occupation: A literature review

Merritt Room

Scholars have been interested in the experience of participation in occupations related to family mealtime including eating and feeding as well as preparing, cooking and serving meals. Often, the study of family mealtime has been embedded in research of family daily routines with little focus on unpacking mealtime occupations themselves. This is problematic because it implies family mealtime occupations lack complexity and do not require further attention to detail. However this could be further from the truth. In fact family mealtime occupations are very complex and often involve transactions through multiple social contexts and social relations at a given time (Larson & Zemke, 2003; Mason, 2015).

Family mealtime occupations are conceptualized as components of family mealtime practice. They are co-constructed through family member participation in culturally meaningful activities and are constantly evolving based on the complexity of the social relations and social context of the given mealtime occupation. They include participation in meals as well as, procuring, preparing, and serving food and cleanup.

Morgan’s (2011) concept of family practice suggests families are not a static group of people acting apart from each other, but a dynamic process complete with practices that are constantly changing and recreated. Family is the lens through which social activities are studied, not an individual family member as ‘the voice’ for describing family processes (Morgan). His concepts allow for a broader view of family processes and multiple methods for data collection and analysis. Therefore, Morgan’s concepts of family practice were used as a framework to synthesize literature on qualitative family mealtime research.

The purpose of this paper is to provide a critical literature review of the occupational science research on family mealtime to better understand the state of qualitative research on this topic. The criteria included: qualitative peer-reviewed research articles that describe how family members organize and interact through their own family mealtime practices or studies that describe family mealtime occupations; research conducted in Western countries; and research that addressed an in-depth discussion of family mealtime occupations. Five of ten articles were omitted from the original search because while family mealtime was discussed, it was not the focus of the study. Data analysis included the exploration of theoretical approach, methods utilized, and characteristics of participants in each study. Findings included absence of identified family theoretical approaches, use of primarily interviews as methods, and perspectives of women, parents and caregivers as participants. There was little focus on occupation, little variety in methods, and more emphasis on the lived experiences of the individual.

With the lack of emphasis on occupation in these studies, moving forward it is important for family mealtime researchers to use appropriate methods, such as ethnographic methods through the lens of the transactional perspective (Bailliard, Aldrich, & Dickie, 2013), to closely examine the complex relationship of family mealtime occupations and their contexts within a given situation. This coupled with Morgan’s concept of family practice will shift the focus from individual to the occupation and can provide more insight to the family mealtime research.