Devising food consumption: complex households and the socio-material work of meal box schemes
Christian Fuentes & Emma Samsioe
The aim of this paper is to explore how digitally-enabled food provisioning platforms reconfigure households’ food consumption. Taking a market studies approach, and drawing on an ethnographic study of 15 households signing up to meal box schemes, the paper examines how meal box schemes, as market devices, work towards materiallysemiotically organising household food consumption. Analysis shows that the process of devising food consumption is demanding, dynamic and complex. While these market devices had to be worked into households, and thus demanded considerable work on the part of consumers, they also worked for consumers, performing an array of material-semiotic tasks for them, making their everyday food practices more convenient, adding food variation, and enabling them to pursue multiple food aspirations. During this process, market devices did not govern consumers nor did consumers domesticate market devices. Instead, market devices and consumers were locked in a complex and unstable process of mutual configuration.
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