Journal of
Media and Communication Studies

  • Abbreviation: J. Media Commun. Stud.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2545
  • DOI: 10.5897/JMCS
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 223

Full Length Research Paper

Interacting through food - food discourse as politeness

Irina Perianova
University of National and World Economy, Sofia, Bulgaria.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 06 June 2011
  •  Published: 31 August 2011



The paper is an attempt to study the links between eating and politeness and to show that politeness spans other social practices or instances of non-verbal behaviour, such as food and eating. The paper aims to view how food structures relationships and mediates social interactions and explores different ways in which food and eating fit the concepts of the politeness theory (Brown and Levinson, 1987). Politeness is regarded in the broadest sense possible as civility, propriety, relevance; and above all, it is based on the notion of face. Food is a signifier of collective identity, a sign of affiliation and bonding (vertical or horizontal), a cultural icon and a personal statement.  Shared food and commensality are markers of politeness and acceptance of relationship. Logically, failure to share often seems rude and a denial of social qualities. Giving or choosing ‘wrong’ or improper food for certain occasion (that is, for breakfast, lunch, or wedding), or for a certain group of people, depending on their age, ethnicity, or religion, may seem very impolite and a sign of a social faux pas.


Key words: Food, meals, politeness, social interaction, discourse.