The significance of the family meal in contemporary culture: A humanities /technological perspective

Bradley John Ware, Salve Regina University


This study examines the impact of technology and other social trends on the decline in the family meal as a cohesive factor in modern culture. Using insights gained from the humanities and social sciences, it offers a coherent view of how traditions shape family values and why they remain relevant today. The traditional importance of the family meal is demonstrated through a historical survey of practices from primitive ages to the present time, with special emphasis on the symbolic significance of the meal as a communal celebration. The contemporary diminution of these familial routines can be linked to the impact of technology on contemporary household relations and, to some degree, to the alienation and other problems found among young people of recent generations. The study specifically addresses how cultural shifts as well as technological advances have resulted in today's fast-paced life-styles. These have often tended to isolate family members from one another and to undervalue the supportive routines of traditional family life. Parents with different work schedules and children's obsession with private interests are among relevant factors. Other serious problems involving personal health and juvenile delinquency have an influence here. These combined with a general social dependence on technologies can contribute to undermining the ideal of a family sharing nourishment together. Pertinent observations on how the essential family resource may be strengthened are provided in the conclusion of the study.

Subject Area

Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology|Cultural anthropology

Recommended Citation

Ware, Bradley John, "The significance of the family meal in contemporary culture: A humanities /technological perspective" (2000). Doctoral Dissertations. AAI9968747.