Saturday, 30 April 2016

Gastronomic cosmopolitanism: Supermarket products in France and the United Kingdom

Available online 26 March 2016


An innovative approach to measuring cosmopolitanism in Europe that focuses on supermarket product offerings.
Evidence for both the depth and the limitations of cultural diversity in contemporary Europe.
We find that some of the most stigmatized immigrant-origin groups in France and the UK have become part of mainstream supermarket culture.
The range of foreign gastronomic influences is limited and stratified, which reflects standardizing logics of globalizing consumer markets.


In this article, we explore whether contemporary European cosmopolitanism is a deep or superficial trend. We do so by examining prepared meals in mainstream French and United Kingdom (UK) supermarket chains. First, we ask to what extent are foreign cultural influences present in these grocery outlets? Then, we explore which foreign cultural influences are present and, finally, how they are presented in this mainstream market setting. Our results are mixed. We find evidence of significant cultural diversity in the offerings of both French and UK supermarket chains. Supermarkets in both countries offer sizeable percentages of products from foreign countries in and outside of Europe. In addition, most of these products are presented without exoticization, suggesting a level of comfort and familiarity with the foreign gastronomic products among consumers, and a promising indicator of robust cosmopolitanism. However, the range of foreign gastronomic influences, in both countries, is both limited and stratified. We argue that this partially reflects standardizing logics and trends of globalizing consumer markets. This suggests that everyday cosmopolitanism may continue to develop in Western Europe, but will likely involve an uneven set of cultural influences.


  • Cosmopolitanism;
  • Gastronomy;
  • Europe;
  • France;
  • UK;
  • Cultural diversity;
  • Immigration;
  • Globalization;
  • Cultural sociology
Corresponding author.
Rahsaan Maxwell is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He received his PhD in 2008 from the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. His research explores the politics of racial, ethnic, religious, and immigrant-origin minorities, often focusing on Western Europe. He has examined numerous issues including minority cultural integration, political attitudes, identity, representation, and acceptance in mainstream society.
Michaela DeSoucey is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at North Carolina State University. She received her PhD in 2010 from the Department of Sociology at Northwestern University. Her research and teaching centers on how varied relationships among markets, social movements, and state systems shape the cultural and moral politics of food.