Commensality and Individual Eating: Mediating Social Relationships during Work Breaks


  • Irma Šidiškienė Researcher at the Lithuanian Institute of History, Department of Ethnology and Anthropology


co-workers, daily eating, celebration-based eating, commensality with co-workers, individual eating in public places, informal social relations


Based on an analysis of eating during work hours, this article looks at the issue of maintaining informal social relations. Various forms of the gathering together of individuals are important in the maintenance of social relations. Very often, casual or leisure-time gatherings, whether they are to mark an important event or celebration, or are just a coffee or lunch break during work hours, involve eating or drinking. However, colleagues and co-workers do not always eat at the same time, especially regarding day-to-day eating during work hours. In this paper, the focus is on the relative importance of eating alone or eating in a group when researching the maintenance of informal relations. The first objective of this research is to clarify the social aspects in research on eating and to survey the scientific literature on commensality and eating alone. Second the paper looks at how eating in a group as opposed to individual eating are expressed as part of the daily eating routine with ones co-workers. By going through these objectives, the question is raised – how would ways of maintaining informal relations change if there an ever greater number of co-workers decided to eat alone?