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The construction of food and meal culture for political and commercial ends: EU-summits, rural businesses and World Exhibitions
Örebro University, Department of Restaurant & Culinary Arts.
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines how cultural values of food and meal culture were expressed and used by professional agents. The overall aim was to analyse and synthesise the interpretation and creation by professionals in commercial food and meal production of what they defined as a local, regional or national food and meal culture. Four groups of professional agents were interviewed on their use of food and meal culture as cultural value and form when: organising meals for ministerial meetings during Sweden’s first tenure of the rotating European Union presidency (chairmanship) in 2001 (political civil servants, meal editors, chefs and sponsors), producing and marketing food and meals in rural areas (restaurateurs, food producers and event organisers), branding food products with a place-related origin (marketing consultants), and when food products and meals were deployed in the international political arena of world exhibitions, 1851–2005 (political civil servants). Data was gathered using qualitative methods: semi-structured interviews, various observation techniques and analysis of contemporary and historical government and commercial documents. The analytical methods used were based on how agents in a field interact to negotiate the values significant in the field, and on how the use of cultural form as symbol affects the presentation. Culinary arts and meal science methodology as followed using ethnological research techniques. The results showed that food and meal culture for commercial and political use was carefully shaped to achieve specific professional goals: to be bought or accepted by the customer or citizen. Meals for EU ministers were designed to match those visitors’ apprehensions of high-status Swedish food and of local food and meal culture. In marketing situations, food product brands were created and shaped to match consumer ideas of place-related origin and ‘genuineness’. At world exhibitions, food and meals were presented as entertainment based on stereotypes of pre-existing food and meal culture. Concepts of the ‘commercial’ and ‘political’ dimensions became cultural values affecting the cultural form, demonstrating that in these cases culture was manufactured to be acceptable to its consumers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro universitetsbibliotek , 2006. , p. 116
Series
Örebro Studies in Culinary Arts and Meal Science, ISSN 1652-2974 ; 5
Keywords [en]
authenticity, commercial, cultural form, cultural value, food and meal culture, origin, political, professional
Research subject
Culinary Arts and Meal Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-615ISBN: 91-7668-492-X (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-615DiVA, id: diva2:137019
Public defence
2006-09-29, Gastronomiska teatern, Måltidens hus, Restauranghögskolan, Grythyttan, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2006-09-07 Created: 2006-09-07 Last updated: 2017-10-18Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Food culture as a political tool: meal construction during the Swedish EU-chairmanship 2001
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Food culture as a political tool: meal construction during the Swedish EU-chairmanship 2001
2003 (English)In: Food Service Technology, ISSN 1471-5732, E-ISSN 1471-5740, Vol. 3, no 2, p. 89-96Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of this study was to analyse how the European Union (EU) ministerial meals during Sweden's EU-chairmanship 2001 were devised, and how the official representatives of Sweden chose to interpret and present a national image based on local and regional food identities. The manufacture of the Swedish culinary profile was compared with the same process during Finland's EU-chairmanship 1999 and Denmark's EU-chairmanship 2002. Sixteen professionals involved in the decision-making process in the three countries were interviewed in 2001 and 2002. The regional food profile chosen in Sweden supported different political goals such as the idea of the production of local food and local economic development. Local and regional food culture had a broad and open definition, but the decisions as to what constituted local and regional food culture as served at the ministerial meals were made at the top political level. The central decision-making process transformed the concept of a typical local and regional food culture into a political tool serving political goals, with the end product presented at different EU-ministerial meals.

Research subject
Culinary Arts and Meal Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-3107 (URN)10.1046/j.1471-5740.2003.00069.x (DOI)
Available from: 2006-09-07 Created: 2006-09-07 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
2. Local food cultures in the Swedish rural economy
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Local food cultures in the Swedish rural economy
2005 (English)In: Sociologia Ruralis, ISSN 0038-0199, E-ISSN 1467-9523, Vol. 45, no 4, p. 346-359Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A rising interest in the commercial benefits of locally and regionally connoted food culture for rural development is notable in Sweden. Local and regional food culture is used as a tool both to encourage the rural economy, but also to fulfil urban residents' dreams of an authentic rural idyll. A qualitative study of a government project involving ten rural food businesses was performed to analyse how local food culture was used as a business advantage. The managers were interviewed and their conceptions analysed using company documents, observational notes and photographs. The results revealed that the managers do use food culture to gain a competitive advantage. They produce only those products that signal perceived 'good taste' and those that best reflect urban customers' ideas of rurality. It is also important to satisfy their kitchen staff's demands to work with developing urban food trends, otherwise the managers risk losing skilled staff. Rural customers are of minor day-to-day economic value, except when using the restaurant on festive occasions. But on those occasions, rural customers demand meals prepared in an urban classical style, not the local and regional food culture they eat at home. The most advantageous local and regional food culture for rural development is therefore that which best combines the urban ideal of the countryside, authentic rural products, and the rural ideal of urban classical cuisine.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford: Blackwell, 2005
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Culinary Arts and Meal Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-3108 (URN)10.1111/j.1467-9523.2005.00309.x (DOI)
Available from: 2006-09-07 Created: 2006-09-07 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
3. Consuming heritage: the use of local food culture in branding
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Consuming heritage: the use of local food culture in branding
2006 (English)In: Place Branding, ISSN 1744-070X, Vol. 2, no 2, p. 130-143Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The objective of this paper was to examine how specialised food marketing consultants interpret local and regional food culture and locality in branding food products to match consumer ideals. Interview data were collected from eight food marketing consultants. The interviews were conducted in two parts: semi-structured interviews, followed by confrontation with actual 'stimulus products'. The data were analysed using current theories on country-of-origin. Results indicate that an association to an alleged origin in a local or regional food culture is seen as an attractive way to interest the urban consumer in new food product brands. The marketing consultants conceive of local and regional food culture as an invention to reflect urban consumers' ideas of the countryside.

Research subject
Culinary Arts and Meal Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-3109 (URN)10.1057/palgrave.pb.5990051 (DOI)
Available from: 2006-09-07 Created: 2006-09-07 Last updated: 2017-10-18Bibliographically approved
4. Constructed national food and meal archetypes at international exhibitions from Paris 1867 to Aichi 2005
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Constructed national food and meal archetypes at international exhibitions from Paris 1867 to Aichi 2005
2008 (English)In: National Identities, ISSN 1460-8944, E-ISSN 1469-9907, Vol. 10, no 3, p. 313-327Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study examines the selection of food culture objects by the Swedish state for presentation at the international exhibitions (world fairs) of 1851 to 2005, and in particular the methodologies used by Swedish National Exhibition Committees to select representative national food culture to be served in national exhibition arenas. The material used consists of government documents from 1846 to 2000, semi-structured interviews of six civil servants responsible for the joint Scandinavian pavilion at the Aichi International Exhibition in 2005 (Japan), field diary notes and photographs from observations, and exhibition brochures. The process of political selection in creating a representative national food cultural heritage, with the aim of promoting the sale of national produce and a positive reputation abroad, as well as of fostering national pride at home, is delineated. The importance of economic and marketing values in shaping a national cultural form designed as a symbol of the nation is examined, and the question of whose food cultures are selected for inclusion and whose are excluded are addressed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Routledge, 2008
Research subject
Culinary Arts and Meal Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-3110 (URN)10.1080/14608940802249957 (DOI)
Available from: 2006-09-07 Created: 2006-09-07 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved

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