A life course perspective of family meals via the life grid method

Robert L. Harrison III (Department of Marketing, Haworth College of Business, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA)
Ann Veeck (Department of Marketing, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA)
James W. Gentry (College of Business Administration, University of Nebraska‐Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing

ISSN: 1755-750X

Publication date: 3 May 2011



The purpose of this paper is twofold: to describe and evaluate the life grid as a methodology for historical research; and to provide an example application investigating the dynamics of family meals over a lifetime by pairing life course theory with the life grid method of obtaining oral histories.


To explore how the meanings and processes of meals change, the authors conducted interviews with 15 respondents aged 80 years old and over, on the topic of family meals.


The paper discusses the merits of using the life grid method to analyze lifetime family consumption behavior. The findings of this example study provide insight as to how the roles, responsibilities, and loyalties of our participants had changed through births, deaths, marriages, wars, economic periods, illnesses, and the process of aging, leading to changes in dining.


The benefit of the life grid method described in this paper is its ability to minimize recall bias. In addition, the overt process of cross‐referencing events throughout the course of the interviews via the life grid method proved to be a helpful aid in identifying patterns and symmetries during the interpretation stage.



Harrison, R., Veeck, A. and Gentry, J. (2011), "A life course perspective of family meals via the life grid method", Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, Vol. 3 No. 2, pp. 214-233. https://doi.org/10.1108/17557501111132154

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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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