Disappearance of the traditional meal: Temporal, social and spatial destructuration

Mestdag, I. (2005): Disappearance of the traditional meal: Temporal, social and spatial destructuration. Appetite, 45, 1 (August 2005): 62-74 - TOR 2005/26.


The vanishing of the traditional meal was explored, comparing Flemish time budget data from 1988 and 1999. In 1988 463 respondents between 21 and 40 years old kept a diary for three consecutive days. In 1999 599 respondents followed the same procedure for a full week. Respondents registered all their activities, including their timing, duration, location and interaction partners. Respondents also completed a questionnaire. Questionnaire and time budget data from the 1988 and 1999 surveys were merged into one joint database. Separate analyses were performed for working days, Saturdays and Sundays. Data from 1988 and 1999 were compared, bearing in mind the temporal, social and spatial features of the meal. The results indicate that the Flemish are not eating at any time, any place or with any one. There was no sign of alarming developments with regard to the organization of the meal between 1988 and 1999. All in all, Flemish eating practices show a high level of structure in the temporal, spatial and social organization of the meal. Keywords: family meal, traditional meal, proper meal, destructuration, Flanders, time budget data