This paper addresses representations of family communication in Samsung’s advertising campaign for the voice activated digital assistant “Bixby”. As a guiding slogan, Samsung claims to “make things that bring families together.” In the commercial “This is Family,” Bixby is featured as a mediating device in communicative acts surrounding a family dinner. As such, the Bixby campaign intersects with the growing push for “device free dinners” as a means to promote greater family communication and satisfaction. However, this paper argues that such representations promote a vision of family meals and family communication that is both romanticized and gendered. All of the families are large, happy and enjoying an abundance of freshly prepared foods. This contrasts starkly with the reality of non-traditional families, busy schedules, work, processed foods and the absence of available fresh foods. These families represent nuclear families, which promotes an outdated conception of the family that excludes single-parent and LGBTQ+ familial arrangements from those romanticized visions. Understanding the call for greater family meals and communication in the context of growing digital media mediation illuminates how food activities, intended to represent togetherness, can instead foster exclusionary visions of social relationships.
Family Meals, Family Communication, Nuclear Family, Digital Media
2018 Special Focus: Digital Food Cultures
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
William James Taylor
Instructor & Assistant Director of Debate, Communication Studies, Kansas State University, United States
KS, United States
Most of my work relates to coaching the Kansas State University Debate Team. A trip through Italy during graduate school transformed my worldview. Food and culture have become powerful forces in both my personal and professional lives. Awareness of food studies and culture are built into teaching lessons and classes in general. I look forward to further engaging in food studies research throughout my career.