Tasting in mundane practices. Ethnographic interventions in social science theory

This thesis presents an ethnographic investigation into practices of tasting. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in various Western Europe settings in which people sensually engaged with food and drinks, the chapters show how tasting is done by research subjects in sensory science laboratories; guests in a restaurant; medical professionals and patients in a hospital; and people gathered for a wine tasting event, daily dinner or a meal in a convent. The ethnographic materials are used to engage with what so far social science literatures on tasting tend to take for granted: that tasting is a ‘physiological response’ to a food object, leading on to a ‘multi-sensory experience’ of its qualities, that do not just emerge from the food but are co-shaped by ‘the context’ and that give rise to sensorial ‘knowledge’. By investigating specificities, articulating alternatives, showing construction processes, and typecasting particular practices, the chapters unpack each of these assumptions. What emerges is an alternative, composite understanding of tasting as variously done in varied mundane practices