Économie et Statistique n° 352-353 - 2002Social and professional time through time-use surveys
An increase in nutritional sociability
Nutritional sociability can be defined as the propensity to share the consumption of food with people who are external to the household, i.e. meals with third parties. It can occur at home or outside: at friends or parents', at restaurants, in cafés, etc. The time spent on nutritional sociability, the places and the preferred time slots combine to form a number of socially different models. In both 1998 and 1986, nutritional sociability was higher overall among single people than among couples, among young people than among seniors, and among senior executives than among farmers and manual employees. However, the gaps between levels of sociability have generally narrowed, especially as regards meals at home. The overall increase in the level of nutritional sociability goes hand in hand with a standardisation of the use of time. Both at home and outside of the home, social meals on Saturday evenings and Sunday lunchtimes are becoming high points of the week. However, this standardisation is not due to the spread of a single model of sociability for all ages, all family situations and all social groups. There are fewer differences between social meals, both at home and outside, because lifestyles are adjusting to professional constraints that, depending on the occupations, are tightening or easing off. Restricting meals to just the household members is on the decline, for example, among farmers and manual employees, thus furthering their nutritional sociability. The preference for or lack of interest in sociability at home is the most stable element of the different nutritional sociability models and explains the development of these practices. The growth in sociability outside of the home among seniors and the later cutting of the link between young people and their parents are new elements that are complicating the nutritional sociability models.