Expanding the joys of cooking: How class shapes the emotional experience of family foodwork

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The emotional experience of foodwork is often considered along a continuum, where pleasure exists in opposition to labor, and where inequalities restrict pleasure. Analyzing qualitative interviews, recall conversations and cooking observations with 34 primary cooks in families, this article explores how diverse parents experience pleasure through family foodwork. Doing so reveals five conditions facilitating pleasure: time, choice, aesthetic freedom, connection, and appreciation. It then analyzes how access to these conditions is shaped by class inequalities, while being attentive to intersections with gender and race/ethnicity. This analysis reveals how socio-economic inequalities fashion negative emotional relationships to foodwork by imposing disproportionate stressors on low-income home cooks, but do not necessarily predict cooking pleasure. Through examining intersections between the sensory and material aspects of foodwork, this article furthers theoretical understanding into how foodwork reinforces gendered, racialized, and classed oppression, while simultaneously identifying how agency and empowerment operate through cooking pleasure for low-income groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGender, Work and Organization
StateAccepted/In press - 2020


  • class
  • domestic labor
  • emotion
  • family
  • foodwork

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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