Street Markets and Diversity
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.
Street markets across the world are significant sites of commerce, trade and consumption. In Britain there are 1400 markets at the present time, although increasingly many markets in the last 20 years have been under threat, closed down or resituated, suffering from limited strategic thinking or policies on markets at a national level, and a distinct lack of investment as local authorities choose to invest in programmes and services that are deemed higher priority. The focus of this project is not however, their economic viability. Rather, our argument is that markets represent a much neglected public space and site of social connections and interaction in cities which is not often recognised. In the context of pessimistic accounts of the decline of public space as a consequence of the drive towards privatisation or the retreat into the private realm, the focus here is on what constitutes the ‘social’ as a multiplicity of lived encounters and connections in this frequently neglected public space. Most importantly, in the context of an increasingly globalised world, markets are significant sites of diversity, where people of different ethnicities congregate both to sell goods and consume them. In markets across the world, from Istanbul to Hanoi, Paris to New York, Sao Paolo to Maputo, the diversity of encounters in markets is core to the sociality of urban street life and daily experience. This project is connected to a wider European and Asian network of researchers interested in the place of markets in a globalised world. Borders are one site of increasing interest to market researchers as spaces of encounter across national differences; in Rong Kluea Market- Thailand’s largest border market, for example, products are on sale from China, Hong Kong, Korea, Cambodia and Thailand. A new comparative project is underway with colleagues in Ningbo and Melbourne to compare markets in China, the UK and Australia. The project has contributed to national and metropolitan policy development over the last few years. First offering advice to the Department of Communities and Local Government Select Committee on traditional retail markets in Britain. Second acting as advisers to the London Development Agency report into the viability of London’s street markets. Though everyone has an affection for their local neighbourhood market, it is only recently that governments have begun to realise the role they play, as spaces of economic development, social interactions and community cohesion, which have the potential to respond also to national agendas for healthy eating and the environment.