Why Local Shopping Streets Matter: A visual ethnographic study of shopping activities

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Retail and cities have had a long and intertwined history together. Since the beginning of first cities established, being a hub for commercial exchange has been one of the main elements what makes a city (Söderlind, 2011). Nevertheless, since 1980s, there have been some substantial shifts at the global scale regarding the organization of retail, and in turn, its spatial manifestations in the cities (Wrigley & Lowe, 1996, 2002; Mansvelt, 2005; Kärrholm & Nylund, 2011; Aslan & Fredriksson, 2017). The social, cultural, and economic backgrounds of this axis alteration, and its implication to the city life in general, have been discussed thoroughly. However, the main empirical focus has been mostly on the "spectacular" new shopping environments, such as upmarket high streets, newer shopping malls, and flagship stores (Crewe, 2000; Mansvelt, 2005), and there is little literature on current situations in “other” retail geographies, particularly on local shopping streets. A little known about these retail geographies’ qualities and significance for making our cities socially sustainable and resilient (Hall, 2012; Findlay & Sparks, 2012; Zukin, 2012).Taking Södergatan, the main shopping street in the stigmatized southern part of Helsingborg, as a case, this study examines the shopping activities on local high streets in order to understand the ways retail geographies at urban margins become meaningful parts of the cities. Thereby it studies these retail geographies from social sustainability perspective. It contributes specifically to the theoretical discussion in cultural turn within retail geography on the interplay between consumers and retail places (Wrigley & Lowe, 1996; Gregson & Crewe, 1998; Crewe, 2001; Gregson et al., 2002). While doing this, the study engages with “practice theory”, which supplies a profound conceptual framework for analyzing people’s everyday routines (Schatzki 2001, Warde 2005, Shove et al. 2012, Fuentes, 2014). The major method employed in the study is video-ethnography, due to its capability to synchronically appreciate shopping activities, consumers’ reflections, the sensory and material environment of the street, and the movement within (Belk & Kozinet, 2005; Pink, 2007, Jewitt, 2012).


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


  • Local High Street, social sustainability, shopping, retail
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Publication categoryResearch
Event34th Nordic Ethnology and Folklore Conference: What Matters – Accounting for Culture in a Post Factual World - Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
Duration: 2018 Jun 122018 Jun 15
Conference number: 34


Conference34th Nordic Ethnology and Folklore Conference
Internet address

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