The digital virtual dimension of the meal

Authors: Denegri-Knott, J. and Jenkins, R.

Pages: 107-122

ISBN: 9781138817685

DOI: 10.4324/9781315745558-17


While popular, the presence of DV devices in the kitchen may raise concerns about the growing digitisation of meal preparations, which sees technology as driving the transformation of human practices. A way of eliding the technology determinist standpoint, where use of DV devices like tablets is seen as displacing human labour, is by adopting a practice-based language to account for how human and non-human actors come together in configuring practice. Adopting this approach has two key consequences for our understanding of doing the meal. First, it enables us to document in detail the many ways in which meal practices are transformed when knowledges, skills, and competences necessary to carry out practices around meal preparation are not only distributed across enthusiastic home cooks and material artefacts (such as hand mixers, food processors, cookers, freezers, recipe books and instruction manuals) and other people, but also located in digital virtual space. Second, it helps us see the kind of new meal work that is required from the home cook in maintaining the coupling between the cook and their devices. In this chapter we discuss the intersection between DV devices and food consumption and the resultant practices they configure. Drawing on insights gleaned from in-depth interviews with 29 cooking enthusiasts living in the South of England, we provide an overview of new configurations, placing emphasis on the ways in which various components of practice – knowledge, competence and commitment – are redistributed between our home cooks and their DV devices. While we acknowledge the significance of ultimate goals, which are to be substantiated and attained through meal work, for example the expression of caring parent or competent cook (Molander, 2011; see also Molander, Chapter 11) and work on meal preparation as a metapractice of love and motherhood, here we focus less on the teleoaffective, or goal dimension of practices to deal with specific meal-related projects and tasks, like knowing how to decorate a pirate chest birthday cake or make gluten free bread. In this way we can better hone in on the way in which the coming together of technology and the home cook produce new forms of doing meal work (see Truninger, Chapter 7).

Source: Scopus