Meal times and synchronization: A cross-metropolitan comparison between Santiago (Chile) and Paris

The Social Science Journal
May 2019
  • Image : vandame (via Shutterstock)Image : vandame (via Shutterstock)

Meal times and synchronization: A cross-metropolitan comparison between Santiago (Chile) and Paris (France)


Anne Lhuissier, Claudia Giacoman, Coline Ferrant (OSC)
Denisse Devilat, Daniella Leal, Pamela Ayala, Giselle Torres et Pierre Chauvin


The Social Science Journal
(online 3 May 2019)

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soscij.2019.02.007 (Elsevier)

This paper compares meal schedules and their social determinants in two metropolises, Santiago (Chile) and Paris (France). The empirical material is drawn from two comparable data sources: Encuesta de Comensalidad en Adultos de la Región Metropolitana (Santiago, Chile) and Santé, Inégalités et Ruptures Sociales (Paris, France). The research highlights cross-metropolitan similarities and disparities between Santiago and Paris regarding meal times and synchronization (change in rhythmic activities induced by interaction of an oscillator with another ones).

Fig. 1. Mealtime distribution in Santiago and Paris.Both metropolises share a similar and marked three-meal pattern. Both in Santiago and Paris, lunch is more synchronized than dinner, for reasons pertaining to professional and school rhythms.
Dinner, however, demonstrates an important coordination effort towards the synchronization of social time within the family. However, this comparison also highlights important disparities between the two metropolises regarding meal schedules, the amplitude of synchronization, and sociodemographic patterns that express a different relationship to food and eating norms: negotiated in Santiago and rigid in Paris.
These differences not only refer to nutritional requirements (content, frequency, pace of the meals, place and commensality) but also to familial and educational purposes. They express cultural norms regarding food and eating according to economic organizations and level of development.