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Unpacking Appropriation: Examining the Effect of Actor-Related Factors on Perceptions of Cultural Appropriation in Culinary Scenarios

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Despite its presence in everyday life, cultural appropriation is not well understood, perhaps because its definition, bounds, and conditions have not been clearly unpacked. The present study uses a between-subjects, mixed-methods approach and culinary-related scenarios to address possible factors that constitute appropriation (e.g., actor background and intent). Utilizing a sample of emerging adults from a small, liberal arts university (N = 167, 52% female, 65% white), results suggest that an actor’s background is not the sole factor in deeming an act appropriative. Rather, intent appears to be an even more pertinent factor to examine. Participants believe that it is possible to engage with cultural products or practices in a respectful manner, further emphasizing the role intent plays in perceptions of appropriation. Although our results help define the bounds of cultural appropriation, future research should consider connections between authenticity and appropriation as well as how observer background might impact perceptions of appropriation.

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Correspondence to Madeline G. Alexanian.

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This study was registered with the Wake Forest University institutional review board. We have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

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Alexanian, M.G., Kiang, L., Lassiter, R. et al. Unpacking Appropriation: Examining the Effect of Actor-Related Factors on Perceptions of Cultural Appropriation in Culinary Scenarios. Race Soc Probl (2024).

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