Children’s subversive interactions in the school mealtime

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School mealtimes in England are highly orchestrated practices that have a specific temporal order of when and how the meal should be eaten. At the same time, the social conditions of the mealtime offer children opportunities for emergent interactions. In this study, we examine children’s non-legitimate voices and the dynamic conflictual nature of children’s interactions that are no longer fully governed by the established school mealtime order. To illustrate these ideas, data are drawn from the 5 years of ethnographic fieldwork conducted by the first author in a primary school in South West England. The analyses address how children use the school mealtime chronotope as a resource to experiment and challenge predefined rules. Our findings illustrate how children transcend the edges of acceptability and probe social order to form their own social critique and uncovering what is not easily explainable or changeable. As an implication we underline the potential for researching children’s socialisation as part of expanding discussions on the significance of school mealtimes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCulture and Psychology
Publication statusAcceptance date - 2021


  • Carnivalesque
  • children’s socialisation
  • chronotope
  • dialogism
  • school mealtimes
  • social order

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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