Revisiting ‘Eating Out’: Understanding 20 years of change in the practice in three English cities

Jessica Paddock, Jennifer A Whillans, Lydia Martens, Alan Warde

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


In 2015 and 2016 we took what is a rare opportunity in the social sciences to revisit the study Eating Out, which was first conducted in 1995 by Warde and Martens. This study explored, from the point of view of diners, the increasingly popular practice of eating main meals in commercial establishments. To explore changes and continuities in such a practice over time, we take instruction from the technique of what Burawoy calls the ‘focused revisit’. This involves revisiting sites studied at an earlier time, but is distinguishable from a re-analysis or the updating of previous studies. The purpose of a revisit is to understand and explain variation in what is observed without being enslaved by the rules that govern ‘replicable’ research. By applying principles of an ethnographic revisit to a mixed method study of ‘eating out’ and ‘eating in’, we were able to re-engage with the topics and literatures arising (e.g. sustainable consumption, eating out as a practice), rather than solely updating the 1995 analysis with the same purposes in mind. This chapter explores the logic of revisiting Eating Out and reflects upon the prospects and challenges afforded by this exciting opportunity. Taking instruction from Glucksmann’s approach, we ‘open up’ the research process and discuss the ‘in between’ stage, between data collection and presentation of findings, to share a number of concrete examples of the challenges of a sociological revisit.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWhat is Food?
Subtitle of host publication Researching a Topic with Many Meanings
EditorsUlla Gustafsson, Rebecca O'Connell, Alizon Draper, Andrea Tonner
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9780429426100
ISBN (Print)9780367726669, 9781138387690
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2019

Publication series

NameBSA Sociological Futures


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