Street markets are important!
Workaround: In current version of Panels 3.8, it seems this body field needs to be populated in order for title above to appear. This note is hidden by custom CSS style. Jack Latimer.
CRESC's Sophie Watson has shown that despite supermarket competition traditional street markets aren't faced with inevitable decline. She has shown that with proper investment and management they can flourish. Her work has been picked up and successfully applied by local authorities and the National British Markets Association to revitalise local markets.
The Full Story
Markets are Important
Sophie's research (supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Open University’s ‘National Everyday Cultures Programme', and CRESC) explored eight UK local authority, private and farmers' markets. It found that markets are significant public social spaces, encourage vibrant social encounters, and foster social inclusion and care. The interactions and connections found in markets don't fit with pessimistic stories about the decline of social association, and markets aren't like shopping malls. They work to include marginalised groups. They encourage mingling across difference. And they are also significant sites of economic and social innovation.
This means that markets are important to key government policy concerns including: community development and cohesion; better diet and nutrition; economic and social innovation (good for start-up businesses); and environmental agendas including local shopping and reduced packaging.
Spreading the message in Vienna and Shanghai
Sophie's research was published in journal articles and Markets as Sites of Social Interaction: Spaces of Diversity (Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Policy Press, 2006). She took a visiting chair in Vienna (part-funded by the City of Vienna) at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Public Space and Urban Cultures (SKUOR) to lead student research on street markets in Vienna and Budapest. She was invited to Shanghai to advise and develop a comparative project on Chinese street markets and their links with Europe, Hong Kong and Australia. She also presented the work on BBC Radio 4 Thinking Allowed in May 2011.
Changing policy: revitalising the UK's street markets
At home Sophie gave the keynote address to the National British Markets Association (NABMA) annual conference in 2006. (NAMBA brings together local authorities providing street markets across the UK ). Her argument, which became central to NABMA’s public platform, was that markets have a multiple and vital role in urban regeneration, social and community inclusion and cohesion, and for healthy eating and nutrition, economic innovation, reducing environmental impact and city liveability.
Sophie spoke to the National Food Markets Conference 2007, and in 2008 she was appointed special adviser to the Communities and Local Government House of Commons Select Committee Traditional Retail Markets Inquiry. The Select Committee Report Market Failure: Can the Traditional Market Survive? was published in 2009. In 2010 she became a consultant to Regeneris on the LDA report on London’s street markets, and made a core contribution to their London’s Street Markets and to the Retail Markets Alliance Markets 21 A Policy and Research Review of UK Retail and Wholesale Markets in the 21st Century.
The core message of her research is that markets are good for society, and they can be saved despite the pressures, if only we manage them properly. Indeed, as a result of Sophie's research they are being saved.