Local Shopping Street as Praxitopia: A video-ethnography of modes of shopping

Project: Dissertation

Research areas and keywords

UKÄ subject classification

  • Other Social Sciences

Keywords

  • Shopping, Local Street, Practice Theory, Video Ethnography, Retail

Description

Shopping has co-constituted urban geographies as convivial, vital, and public spaces for centuries. However in the last decades how shopping is enacted and its spatiotemporal manifestations are changed radically in conjunction with proliferation of car usage, internationalization of retail, and establishment of out-of-town malls. The social, cultural, and economic backgrounds of this axis alteration and its implication to the city life have been discussed thoroughly. However, the main empirical focus laid mostly on the mainstream and spectacular geographies of shopping. There is little literature on how shopping is enacted in “other” shopping geographies, particularly on local shopping streets.
A little known about these shopping geographies’ qualities and social and cultural significance for making our cities liveable. Particularly, how shopping in enacted in such places, and shopping’s part in co-constituting them, has been, to a large degree, overlooked.
Södergatan, a local shopping street in the stigmatized southern part of Helsingborg, Sweden, was chosen as a case study for the inquiry. Initially established as the main street of a working-class district in the 19th century, after going through modernization phases, today it mostly hosts so-called migrant entrepreneurships, service-based premises, and grocery stores. This study examines the major modes of shopping on this local shopping street in order to understand how shopping geographies outside of mainstream ensure their relevance. It contributes to the literature on shopping geographies from a cultural perspective, particularly on the co-constitutive interrelation between enactments of shopping and shopping places. To be able to analyze shopping as the basic study unit, I rely on the theoretical literature accumulated on the around the concept of “practice”. Theories on practice supply a profound conceptual vocabulary and dynamic epistemological gaze for concentrating on shopping as the main analytical unit. The methodological perspective and tools were derived from qualitative research tradition, I primarily made use of on an experimental research method, video ethnography. The rationale behind this choice was to be able to grasp the entangled character of shopping on the street, complicated by cultural, spatial, temporal, material, and sensorial layers.
The research shows that there are some major place-specific modes of shopping that are enacted in the street and in the district; framed and analyzed as Convenience Shopping, Shopping-in-Communality, Shopping-in-Destination, Fringe Shopping, and Budget Shopping. It is shown that this mix of modes of shopping, bundling with each other, materially and sensorially co-constitute the street into a meaningful and convivial part of the city.
Short titleLocal Shopping Street as Praxitopia:
StatusActive
Effective start/end date2013/06/10 → …

Participants