The social significance of dining out

A study of continuity and change

By Alan Warde, Jessica Paddock and Jennifer Whillans

The social significance of dining out


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  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-6377-6
  • Pages: 296
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £25.00
  • Published Date: June 2022
  • BIC Category: Anthropology, Sociology, Sociology: sport & leisure, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Agriculture & Food, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Popular Culture, Food & Society, Sociology: Sport & Leisure, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Geography, Human Geography, Society & social sciences / Society & culture: general


Dining out used to be considered exceptional. However, the Food Standards Authority reported that in 2014, one meal in six was eaten away from home in Britain. Previously considered a necessary substitute for an inability to obtain a meal in a family home, dining out has become a popular recreational activity for a majority of the population, offering pleasure as well as refreshment.

Based on a major mixed-methods research project on dining out in England, this book offers a unique comparison of the social differences between London, Bristol and Preston from 1995 to 2015, charting the dynamic relationship between eating in and eating out. Addressing topics such as the changing domestic divisions of labour around food preparation, the variety of culinary experience for different sections of the population, and class differences in taste and the pleasures and satisfactions associated with dining out, the authors explore how the practice has evolved across the three cities.


'This is a remarkable book that will be of wide interest to sociologists of consumption and scholars of food studies more generally. Not only is it rare to undertake a national study of eating out in commercial establishments and friends'/relatives' houses, but it is probably without precedent to repeat such a study after an interval of twenty years-between 1995 and 2015 ... The book fills a large gap in the sociology of eating out and thus makes an extremely important contribution to the field. By documenting a central social activity in both socio-political space and over time, the authors have created a very valuable resource that will be widely consulted in years to come.'
British Journal of Sociology

'This is an exquisitely detailed and deliberate sociology of the ordinary restaurant meal and dinner with friends . It is the perfect book to teach with and I will do so.'
Contemporary Sociology


Part I: Introduction
1 Dining out
2 Method and context

Part II: Familiarisation
3 Patterns of dining out
4 The meaning of eating out

Part III: Informalisation
5 Food at home
6 Domestic hospitality
7 Restaurant performances
8 Organising eating

Part IV: Diversification
9 Regard for variety
10 Aesthetics, enthusiasm and culinary omnivorousness
11 Landscape of variety

Part V: Continuity and change
12 The practice of eating out
13 Explaining continuity and change


Alan Warde is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Manchester

Jessica Paddock is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Bristol

Jennifer Whillans is a Lecturer in Sociology and Quantitative Research Methods at the University of Bristol

The social significance of dining out

By Alan Warde, Jessica Paddock, Jennifer Whillans

Paperback £25.00 / $36.95

Hardcover £85.00 / $130.00

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