Praxitopia: How shopping makes a street vibrant

Project: Dissertation

Research areas and keywords

UKÄ subject classification

  • Other Social Sciences


  • Shopping, Consumption, Practice Theory, Video Ethnography, City


During recent decades, shopping’s geographical manifestations have altered radically and the presumed ‘death’ of town centre retailing has become a public concern. The social, cultural, and economic backgrounds of this decentralisation of retail and its effects on city life have been studied comprehensively. However, to date, few studies have examined the changing dynamics of non-mainstream shopping geographies, particularly local shopping streets. How shopping is enacted in such places, and shopping’s part in shaping them, has been largely overlooked. Aspiring to fulfil this knowledge gap, this dissertation examines shopping activities on Södergatan, a local shopping street in a stigmatized ‘super-diverse’ district of Helsingborg, Sweden known as Söder, and contributes to the literature on shopping geographies by drawing on a sociocultural perspective.
The study draws on practice theory and focuses on shopping as the main unit. The analysis is built on a sensitivity to the interrelationships existing between social practices and place, emerging from the epistemic positioning resulting from the identification of 'modes of practices'. In order to grasp the enmeshed character of shopping, which is complicated by cultural, spatial, temporal, material, and sensorial layers, video ethnography was employed as the primary research collection method, in combination with go-along interviews, observation and mental-mapping.
The research reveals five major modes of shopping practice which jointly represent a typology for understanding shopping in terms of being enacted in the street; i.e. convenience shopping, social shopping, on-the-side shopping, alternative shopping, and budget shopping. This thesis also shows that the bundling of these modes of shopping shapes the street into a vibrant part of the city by interrelating with the shopping street’s sensomaterial and spatiotemporal dimensions in complex and multifaceted directions. Consequently, the local shopping street is conceptualized as a praxitopia, a place co-constituted through social practices.
Short titlePraxitopia
Effective start/end date2013/06/102021/06/24