Moving marketplaces: Understanding public space from a relational mobility perspective

van Eck, Emil; Watson, Sophie; van Melik, Rianne; Breines, Markus; Dahinden, Janine; Jónsson, Gunvor; Lindmäe, Maria; Madella, Marco; Menet, Joanna and Schapendonk, Joris (2022). Moving marketplaces: Understanding public space from a relational mobility perspective. Cities, 127, article no. 103721.



Research on outdoor retail markets has focused on the diverse ways in which markets constitute public spaces where diversity and social inclusion coexist with conflict and reproduction of inequalities. This approach has prompted existing studies to focus on place-politics in terms of group- and spatially-bounded processes. In this paper, we take a relational mobility perspective to show that markets are not delineated and fixed entities. By approaching them as spaces in-flux, we are sensitive to the ways markets are continuously made and remade anew each operating day. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in four European countries (the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom), we argue that 1) the practice of mobility is key to understand how markets come into being; and 2) a mobility approach opens up new questions regarding (unequal) power relations in the production of public space as it articulates the ‘relational politics of (im)mobilities’. Although the locality of markets tends to be emphasised as a sign of quality in governmental and public imaginations, we illustrate that the coming-into-being of markets depends on social, material and institutional relations coming from elsewhere.

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