Mycket mat, men lite måltider - En studie av arbetsplatsen som måltidsarena

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


Many people spend hours in a workplace every week and food and drink play a central role in providing nutrition and energy and help to create breaks during the working day. However, meals are something more than the food consumed. This dissertation focuses on the meal at work, where the meal is surrounded by special circumstances when it comes to time, place and social relations, as well as the food. The main objective of this study is to increase our understanding of the conditions for the meal in working life today. The empirical work has been carried out at an industrial company producing components for medical technology, and at a hospital, where observations, interviews and a questionnaire have been used. A previous pilot study, where a bus-company and a residential home for care of the elderly participated, also has contributed with important material. In this dissertation I examine how different meal actors in the workplaces, consisting of the employees, the management and representatives for the food provision system, reason about and value food and meals at work.
The work of this dissertation has been inspired by the empirical findings from the pilot study, where work, time and meals are central concepts, and it has been influenced by interactionist and dramaturgical perspectives, where food and meals are important tools of communication. Many people work irregular hours and time for work as well as for breaks are shifting from day to day or between weeks. While some people have strictly regulated times for breaks, others have to create time and space for the meal individually. The workplace is a multifaceted arena, which is reflected in different conditions for the meal "ingredients", i.e. the food available and the social relations with colleagues, as well as the time and the room for the meal to take place. An important finding in this study is that the meal at work is seldom prioritized, which is interpreted as a result of how different actors reason about and value the meal. Meals at home or with the family are also important reference points in understanding how people value the workplace meal. The lack of strategies for the meal among the management and the food provision actors are apparent, which also strengthen the idea of eating for necessity at work rather than having a pleasurable meal. When economic rationality is prioritized the meal is easily rationalized away, without further notices of the consequences for the employees.


  • Maria Nyberg
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)


  • irregular working hours, meals, food, eating, workplace, time, working life
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
Award date2009 Apr 17
Print ISBNs91-7267-285-4
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2009-04-17 Time: 10:15 Place: Kulturens Auditorium, Lund External reviewer(s) Name: Mäkelä, Johanna Title: [unknown] Affiliation: The National Consumer Research Centre, Helsinki, Finland ---