This chapter examines the social significance of potlucks. In the United States, the word potluck has come to mean a particular category of commensal events, where each participant brings a “dish to pass” to create a communal meal. As a social social event, the potluck represents a shift in both the form of the meal and the normative expectations of hospitality, away from formality and temporal sequencing. Because both emotional and material labor is shared at potlucks, people potentially construct different situated identities through these events than they might if orienting their social lives around more formal modes of entertaining. Potlucks are also about constructing temporary unities, bounded groups of informal and often heterogeneous people.
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