Sharing Food and Creating Social Memory

Maundy Thursday is a significant day in the Christian calendar reflecting on the Last Supper.  The coming together of a family or community to share a meal is an
 important act that crosses religions and cultures.  Social relationships are formed, nurtured, and sustained by the sharing of food.

Sutton (2008) discusses the relationship between food and collective memory, suggesting that food provokes social memory.  Shared memories are recalled through the memory of taste, ritual and shared experience, maintaining links with the past.  The sharing of a meal contributes to the formation of collective identity and the artefacts of the cooking process become embedded with historical and cultural significance.

Organizational culture is formed through the shared history and experiences of colleagues, and is maintained through social rituals.  The organizational culture enables mental models to evolve as social groups share tacit perceptions of how information is used in the organization.  The language of information becomes both a cultural enabler and barrier, protecting and dividing social groups within the organization.  Over time the shared meanings of information become embedded in physical and conceptual artefacts, strengthening social memory and hindering the ability to share information between different departments and organizational functions.  Eliciting the knowledge embedded in social memory requires a means to invoke memories and unravel the history from which information derives its meaning in the organization today.

Organizational culture forms part of the context in which information is interpreted and used.  Information must therefore be managed in a manner that aligns with the core values shared by the organizational community and embedded in social memory.  The sharing of food provides an occasion to form social relationships and to take part in creating social memory.  It also offers an opportunity to appreciate the cultural values that influence how information is defined and interpreted.

As the Easter bank holiday draws near, take a moment to look at the people around you and reflect on how your relationships with them shape and inform your views of the world.

Happy Easter.


Further Reading: the role of culture information management is discussed in Chapter 1


Please use the following to reference this blog post in your own work:

Cox, S. A., (2014), ‘Sharing Food and Creating Social Memory’, 17 April 2014,, [Date accessed: dd:mm:yy]

© 2014 Sharon A Cox