A literature review on an ethnographic case study in a UK school, exploring
the sociology of the food environment
University of Leicester
This literature review provides an insight into some of the key findings from an investigation
carried out for a PhD thesis, to explore the impact of the food environment and the potential of
the school dining hall (known as the “restaurant”) as a place which may support learning
opportunities, specifically learning how to behave appropriately and exercise etiquette in sharing
food, at a school that was called the Peartree Academy. A broader focus of the study involved
exploring the social and cultural practices that shape the interactions in the school dining hall.
This paper is divided into two sections: the ‘History of English School Meal’ and ‘Social Skills
Development’. After an introduction to the overall study, the historical context of school meals
in the UK is developed, followed by a synthesis of findings from a broad range of literature
discussing the school food environment in the context of the school dining hall and highlighting
the importance of staff presence and parental participation.
Keywords: School Restaurant; Food Environment; Role Models; Social Skills; Ethnography