Domestic Hospitality: As a Practice and an Alternative Economic Arrangement

Alan Warde, Jessica Paddock, Jennifer Whillans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines the connections between the economic, social and cultural aspects of a rather peculiar practice – events of domestic hospitality which involve a meal. In formats ranging from the formal dinner party to impromptu potluck events, an economic good is transferred from one household to another, ostensibly as a unilateral gift although often prompting reciprocity. Illustrated with results from a mixed methods re-study of the practice of eating out in England, we explore how, and under which circumstances, reciprocity is, or is not, observed. We discuss how to conceptualise this activity in terms of production and consumption, modes of provision, gifts and reciprocity, practice and culture. Interpreting the meaning and function of domestic entertaining, and explaining why it is so highly regarded, is shown to depend on how repetition is aligned with other specific characteristics of the practice. We draw out some implications for the relationship between production and consumption, for social relations under different modes of provision, and for alternative ways of delivering services.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-398
JournalCultural Sociology
Issue number4
Early online date30 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


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