Exploring the meanings of alternative consumption spaces : a visual analysis of the Barras marketplace

  • Anna Cydzik

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Consumption spaces have formative power over social relations and every-day practices. In the brand dominated reality, alternative consumption is argued to facilitate spontaneous social relations and individualized practices. An objective of this thesis is to apply a visual analysis to research of alternative consumption space in order to develop practical implications for urban planners and space researchers. The Barras market has been chosen as an example of alternative consumption space. In order to address the research objective, three questions have been developed; 1. What are the historical, cultural and social contexts and myths embedded in The Barras? 2. How does the space define consumption practices of its visitors? 3. To what extent the consumption forms and practices observable at The Barras differ from the mainstream consumption patterns? Bringing multidisciplinary perspective and methods to the analysis allowed independent and subjective understanding of the space. By means of a visual ethnography paired with artistic analysis the research reached into the social, cultural and historical tissue of the space and brought insights about the embedded structures. The fieldwork involved participant observations, interviews and visual data collection. It was also informed with the analysis of online user generated reviews. The emphasis has been put on exploring social and cultural phenomena and describing the formative qualities of the visual elements. The key findings revealed how this public space is being constantly created by the consumption practices of the participants. Life stories compose physical surroundings; micro capsules that fill the public space with private meanings and symbols. Due to the lack of traditional active/passive, viewer/actor and front/back dualities the space generates a specific type of participation.Deprived of traditional boundaries, the participants have to redesign their consumption practices and get engaged into active experiencing. The consumption practices observable at marketplaces are argued to strongly contribute to the social and historical significance of a city. Understanding and further research of consumption structures is essential for effective spatial planning and revitalisation.
Date of Award16 Dec 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorPaul Hewer (Supervisor) & Stephen Tagg (Supervisor)

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