Wakako Takeda is a PhD candidate at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health. She has a multi-disciplinary background with combined degrees in social psychology, Asian studies, international relations, and anthropology. Her research focus is cross-cultural and historical analyses of everyday lifestyle practices, and she explores socio-cultural dynamics lying behind lifestyle-related health risks and social determinants of health.
Sharing meals (commensality) is a common everyday practice and a symbol of sociality in many human societies. Until recently, the practice of commensality has been taken for granted uncritically. Growing industrialization, urbanization, and modernization of lifestyles, however, has drawn public and academic attention to speculation that ‘traditional’ ways of eating and family meals are being replaced by solitary dining. This PhD project unpacks the socio-cultural dynamics lying behind everyday eating, working, and family practices in urban, post-industrial societies, based on multi-method, cross-cultural analysis of young adults aged between 18 and 40 living in Australia and Japan. This seminar outlines seven socio-cultural determinants of commensality and solo-eating (eating spaces, time, division of labours, social relations, distribution of food and financial costs, and emotional experiences), and discusses possible explanations for the relationships with diet-related risks, mental health, and social determinants of health.