Negotiating cultural identity through eating habits: Second-generation immigrants talk about memories, values and cultural heritage attached to food

University essay from Malmö universitet/Fakulteten för kultur och samhälle (KS)

Abstract: This thesis explores eating habits among seven second-generation immigrants born, raised and living in Scania, southern Sweden. It does so by using a thematic analysis of data gathered through semi-structured interviews. The theoretical framework combines Douglas’ symbolism, Bandura’s social learning theory and acculturation models. The results show that interviewees maintain memories from childhood and emotions attached to eating habits; parents play an important role in shaping the individuals’ habits as well as their successful assimilation of the majority traditions. Moreover, there is a general preference for social eating rather than eating alone, and a strong connection between traditional food and cultural belonging. Differences in eating habits were recognized as reasons of discrimination and feelings of alienation. However, thanks to their parent’s influence, interviewees negotiate the different cultural realities they live in. The findings contribute to research in the sociology of food and eating and can be employed in policy development.

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