PurposeRecent global migration trends have led to an increased prevalence, and new patterning, of intercultural family configurations. This paper is about intercultural couples and how they manage tensions associated with change as they settle in their new cultural context. The focus is specifically on the role food plays in navigating these tensions and the effects on the couples’ relational cultures.Design/methodology/approachA qualitative relational–dialectic approach is taken for studying Polish–Irish intercultural couples. Engagement with relevant communities provided multiple points of access to informants.FindingsIntercultural tensions arise as the couples jointly transition, and food consumption represents implicit tensions in the household’s relational culture. Such tensions are sometimes resolved, but sometimes not, leading to enduring tensions. Dialectical movement causes change, which has developmental consequences for the couples’ relational cultures.Research limitations/implicationsThis study shows how the ways that tensions are addressed are fundamental to the formation of a relational family identity.Practical implicationsRecommendations emphasise the importance of understanding how the family relational culture develops in the creation of family food practices. Marketers can look at the ways of supporting the intercultural couple retain tradition, while smoothly navigating their new cultural context. Social policy analysts may reflect on the ways that the couples develop an intercultural identity rooted in each other’s culture, and the range of strategies to demonstrate they can synthesise and successfully negotiate the challenges they face.Originality/valueDealing simultaneously and separately with a variety of dialectical oppositions around food, intercultural couples weave together elements from each other’s cultures and simultaneously facilitate both relational and social change. Within the relationship, stability–change dialectic is experienced and negotiated, while at the relationship’s nexus with the couple’s social ecology, negotiating conventionality–uniqueness dialectic enables them reproduce or depart from societal conventions, and thus facilitate social change.
European Journal of Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 12, 2018
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