Eating Together, Separately: Intergroup Communication and Food in a Multiethnic Community

Andrea Wenzel


In multiethnic communities, food pathways can bring diverse residents into contact in restaurants and in the aisles of grocery stores—though the communication that ensues does not always lead to greater understanding. Drawing from communication infrastructure theory, as well as intergroup contact and racial formation concepts, this article explores the relationship between food practices and how residents perceive their demographically changing communities. The article synthesizes a survey, field observations, and interviews with Asian, Latino, and White residents in a majority-minority city in Los Angeles County. Findings suggest that, although discursive networks within commercial food spaces are often ethnically bounded, communication in and about food spaces can act as a barometer of attitudes toward community change and intergroup relations.


food, storytelling, intergroup relations, communication assets, bridging, diaspora, identity, racial formation

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