Jewish American Foodways: The Dietary Construction of Identity
MetadataShow full metadata
A review of the existing social science literature reveals that food plays a major role in the construction and performance of identity. An individual’s food choices and behaviors can be influenced by social situations. Following a symbolic interactionist perspective, and using an interpretive interactionist method, I conducted qualitative interviews with Jews living in Texas who keep kosher. These interviews revealed subtle differences in participants’ actions and statements to others about food based on the social situation they were in. In particular, meals with coworkers and meals at restaurants were more likely to occasion participants to take a different approach than they would in other social situations. I argue that despite not disclosing their Jewishness in certain situational contexts, the act of keeping kosher itself is still a deeply embedded practice for participants that serves to reinforce their sense of cultural and religious identity.