What am I Going to Eat Here? Food Tensions of Immigrants in a Cosmopolitan City

  • Michelle BergadaàEmail author
  • Nada Sayarh
Conference paper
Part of the Developments in Marketing Science: Proceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science book series (DMSPAMS)


For immigrants, food represents an identity and a personal and community bond. This identity is challenged when the consumer under globalization accepts a job abroad. It will evolve as it comes into contact with other cultures. Our research took place in the cosmopolitan city of Geneva. The sociodemographic, cultural, and structural characteristics of the immigrant population in Geneva are very different from those that are usually studied to analyze immigrants’ integration trends. We conducted 2 focus groups and 13 interviews for our naturalistic inquiry. Our analysis of the data enabled us to identify three identity-related tensions and the strategies devised by our respondents to manage them. We were hence able to establish the link between the discourse and the meaning of culturally marked food.


Food Postassimilationist Tensions Identity 


  1. Askegaard, S., Arnould, E. J., & Kjeldgaard, D. (2005). Postassimilationist ethnic consumer research: Qualifications and extensions. Journal of Consumer Research, 32, 160–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Askegaard, S., Kjeldgaard, D., & Arnould, E. J. (2009). Reflexive culture’s consequences. In C. Nakata (Ed.), Beyond Hofstede (pp. 101–122). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beji-Becheur, A., and N. Ozcaglar-Toulouse. (2008). Coucous connexion: l’histoire d’un plat migrant, Dijon 13–14 Novembre.Google Scholar
  4. Bergadaà, M. (2008). L’artisanat d’un métier d’art : l’expérience de l’authenticité et sa réalisation dans les lieux de rencontre entre artisan et amateur éclairé. Recherche et Application en Marketing, 23, 5–26.Google Scholar
  5. Berry, J. W. (1997). Immigration, acculturation, and adaptation. Applied Psychology, 46, 5–68.Google Scholar
  6. Bouchet, D. (1995). Marketing and the redefinition of ethnicity. In J. Costa & G. Bamossy (Eds.), Marketing in a multicultural world (pp. 68–104). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  7. Braudel, F. (1997). Les écrits de Fernand Braudel. II: Les ambitions de l’histoire. Paris: De Fallois.Google Scholar
  8. Cook, I., & Crang, P. (1996). The world on a plate. Journal of Material Culture, 1, 131–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (1988). Strategies of qualitative inquiry. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  10. Federal Statistical Office (2005). La population étrangère en Suisse.Google Scholar
  11. Fischler, C. (1990). L’Homnivore. Paris: Odile Jacob.Google Scholar
  12. Ger, G., & Belk, R. W. (1996). I’d like to buy the world a coke: Consumptionscapes of the less affluent world. Journal of Consumer Policy, 19, 271–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Greimas, A. J., & Rastier, F. (1968). The interaction of semiotic constraints. Yale French Studies, 41, 86–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hofstede, G. (1980). Culture’s consequences: International differences in work-related values. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  15. Jodelet, D. (1991). Madness and social representations. London: Harvester/Wheatsheaf.Google Scholar
  16. Kjeldgaard, D., & Askegaard, S. (2006). The glocalization of youth culture: The global youth segment as structures of common difference. Journal of Consumer Research, 33(2), 231–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Levitt, T. (1983). The globalization of markets (pp. 92–102). Boston: Harvard Business Review.Google Scholar
  18. Malewska-Peyre, H. (1993). Les troubles de la socialisation chez les jeunes issus de l’immigration. In Marginalités et troubles de la socialisation. Paris: PUF.Google Scholar
  19. Peñaloza, L. (1994). Atravesando Fronteras/Border Crossings: A critical ethnographic exploration of the consumer acculturation of Mexican immigrants. Journal of Consumer Research, 21(1), 32–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Poulain, J. P. (2002). Manger Aujourd’hui, Attitudes, normes et pratiques. Paris: Privat.Google Scholar
  21. Ritzer, G. (1996). The McDonaldization of society: An investigation into the changing character of contemporary social life, rev (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  22. Rozin, P. (1990). The acquisition of stable food preferences. Nutrition Review, 48, 106–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Strauss, A. C., & Corbin, J. M. (1990). Basics of qualitative research. Grounded theory procedures and techniques. Beverly Hills: Sage.Google Scholar
  24. Thompson, C. J., & Tambyha, S. K. (1999). Trying to be cosmopolitan. Journal of Consumer Research, 26, 214–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Topalov, A. M. (2004). Déterminants sociaux et religieux des comportements alimentaires. In C. Didier & J. Louis-Sylvestre (Eds.), Les comportements alimentaires. Paris: Lavoisier.Google Scholar
  26. Üstüner, T., & Holt, D. B. (2007). Dominated consumer acculturation: The social construction of poor migrant womens’ consumer identity projects in a Turkish squatter. Journal of Consumer Research, 34, 41–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Warde, A. (1997). Consumption, food and taste: Culinary antimonies and commodity culture. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  28. Wilk, R. R. (1997). A critique of desire: Distaste and dislike in consumer behavior. Consumption, Markets and Culture, 1, 175–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Zajonc, R. B., & Markus, H. (1982). Affective and cognitive factors in preferences. Journal of Consumer Research, 9, 123–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Academy of Marketing Science 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations