Markets and belonging: Untangling myths of urban versus small-town life

Watson, Sophie and Breines, Markus (2023). Markets and belonging: Untangling myths of urban versus small-town life. In: Sezer, Ceren and van Melik, Rianne eds. Marketplaces: Movements, Representations and Practices. Routledge Studies in Urbanism and the City. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, pp. 129–138.



Markets are important social spaces in many cities, towns and villages across the world. While street markets in different locations share some basic qualities in terms of the activities that take place there, the variations between markets have rarely been acknowledged. This chapter examines how social ties and community in markets are differently shaped in urban and small-town settings in the UK context. Through this exploration, the chapter unpacks the distinctions drawn between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft, and their association with urban/rural divides. We examine how different patterns of mobility among the traders in these markets reflect very distinct attachments to place and sense of community and argue that an exploration of the mobile practices of market traders can untangle some of the myths of urban versus rural life where city spaces are often conceived as more fluid, less fixed, with weaker social ties when compared to more rural or small-town spaces.

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