Preschoolers, plates, and preferences: A multimodal analysis of the organisation and institutionalisation of infant's eating practises in Swedish preschool lunches

Three kids eating on a pre-school.

Learning doesn't take a lunchbreak, so what happens when young children eat together in preschools? This project examines the multimodal and discursive practices that scaffold eating and social interaction during preschool mealtimes. 

This project examines preschool meals as an arena for socialization into eating practices and social interaction, where young children learn not only what but also how to eat together with people other than their family. Using multimodal interaction analysis and discursive psychology, we make visible previously unexplored aspects of how individual preferences and institutional orders are negotiated during the meal.

The project is underpinned by two theoretical approaches: ethnomethodology and discursive psychology. Through the ethnomethodological analysis of multimodal interaction, mealtimes are examined in terms of multimodal resources and embodied actions as unfolding throughout the mealtime. With discursive psychology, we can investigate how psychological aspects of eating, such as food likes, hunger, and taste, are made manifest and consequential as part of the management of young children’s eating practices.

In the project, we have video-recorded approximately 100 meals from 4 preschools in Sweden, over three semesters from 2021 to 2022. The analysis has already focused on, among other things, how food preferences become involved in requests for or offers of food, how children play with food and this can still be part of eating practices, and how children are encouraged to try new foods.


Cover of publication ''
Sally Wiggins Young, Annerose Willemsen, Jakob Cromdal (2023)

International Journal of Early Childhood Continue to DOI

Research about Preschool Meals