Observational Study of Market Place As a Public Space with Cultural



A public space is a social space that is generally open and accessible to people. This may include public squares, Public markets, parks and beaches. Public spaces play critical role in shaping the people`s integration. They enhances integration by bring people of diverse cultural background together and this is an ingredient of sustainability of a society. Market places are spaces for economic, social and cultural contacts and exchange. These spaces takes many forms which may include open air markets, streets, purpose-built markets, periodic markets or permanent and mobile markets (Pena 72).

Market as a public space is important in encouraging inter-culture, inter-racial and ethnic contacts in our immigrant receiving societies (Amin 959). Market places therefore are potential public spaces which serve as sites of meaningful interaction between diverse groups of people. Since time in memorial, market places have been instrumental in cultural exchanges of the people of different cultural backgrounds who meet there for different activities. As noted by McMillan, “markets have been around as long as history and have always been spaces of cultural growth and reinvention” (5). Watson highlighted the significance of market places as sites of forming social bonds among people of different ethnicities (1586). Despite this role of bringing diverse people together, market places have also negative effects on our social life. For example, slave trade in Africa started in African colonial markets. (Ahluwalia 44-133). This illustrates the negative effects that markets may have on our ways of life. Below is a study that demonstrates the cultural significance of a market place as a public space.


Examination of Biases and Assumption in the Study


There was a generalization that all market places are public spaces open to all but this is not the case as some markets are private and only opened to a given group of people. It was assumed that in all market places there are diverse groups of people with different cultural background interacting but in essence some market places you may find almost everyone belonging to just one cultural background. Thus such market lacks cultural diversity. It was assumed that the different ethnic groups in any given market will interact freely but in some cases animosity among different groups was noted. There was the assumption that the different method of research would give appropriate results but some methods give inappropriate findings.




The main methods of my study were through direct observations, interviewing and issuing of questionnaires. Direct observation was the main method of data collection. I spent a lot of time observing how different groups of people with different cultural backgrounds interacted in the market place. How their interactions shaped their ways of life. This was mainly through the observation of their attire, hair style, different arts on their bodies like tattooing and piercing of body parts. I also conducted interviews on the different people whom I had observed as having been affected by this cultural interactions. This was through asking them questions on their cultural practices and how their interactions with other people at the market affected their culture. I also issued some questionnaire to some traders in the market place, this was meant to confirm what I had observed.


Limitations of the study


There were limitations in the use of the questionnaire as different respondents had different interpretation of some of the questions asked. The questionnaire method also was not able to provide interpretations of the respondents’ emotions, feelings and behaviors. Some of the respondent in this study were also very sensitive. They hide information that they were uncomfortable to give. The direct observation method was also faced with limitation as some people behaved differently when they knew they were being studied.




In my findings it was clear that market places creates a public space with cultural significance in the community. They are safe, lively and inviting public spaces in which people of diverse cultural backgrounds interacts. In addition to ethnicity diversity, I also observed there is age, social class, religion diversity in the market place which also are of cultural significance. It was also observed that apart from the core activity of buying and selling, the market also provides social places where people hang out. In these sites people of diverse cultural background were found interacting freely. This enhanced cultural integration of these people. There was a lot of borrowing of behaviors and ways of life in these settings. The cultural borrowing that were noted in these sites included people coping other people way of greeting each other, the clothing designs, language, different body arts like tattooing and piercing body parts. On my interview to some, this interaction in this site was also found to promote intermarriages among people of different cultural background. This interaction have also resulted to some changing their religion believes and practices.


Cultural Significance of Market Places


From the research that has been done with the help of the paper writing website  online, it was evident that market places plays the role as a point of contact of people of diverse cultures. Alhuwalia described market places as where, “disparate people meet in order to carry out their local way of life” (Alhuwalia 142). This contact has implications on the social integration of the people, influencing their identities and relationships. There is also a lot of influences among different cultures in the market places. On identity, market places shapes the identity of the people interacting in them. These interactions creates and reinforces a feeling of sameness among these people. This feeling of sameness results to actions like intermarriages and changing of religion believes. These two acts results to adoption of different cultural practices. Geana describe how Caripathian folk fair created Romanian national consciousness. The periodic markets allowed for inter-marriages and kinship ties across the three distinct political territories. There was entrenchment of common religion and cultural practices as well as linguistic homogeneity (Geana 91-110). This demonstrates the convergence of social practices which results from contacts in the market places. The interactions in the market place between the majority and new immigrants’ cultures has been shown to challenge and to change the majority culture (Olsson 56). Market places are also instruments of transculturation. The local community comes into contact with global commodities (Alhuwalia 138). Market places also serve as avenues of selling people cultures to visitors. Cultural capital. Craftspeople and vendors offers products that appear authentic to specific audience exploiting the desire for cultural capital (Hindman 79-663). This is an avenue of spreading a given cultural heritage to different places. This act have resulted in adoption of some cultural aspect of one community by another community. Markets places a role of social integration in the societies why there is ethnic animosity. In the wake for London’s race riots in 2001, the Queens Market, a multi-ethnic open market in the ethnically diverse neighborhood of Newham was the target of a development plan (Dines). In addition, market places serves as avenue of social inclusion. This maybe between people of different cultural backgrounds, immigrants and between the majority groups and the minorities. The interactions in the market places on the other hand can bring about negative results which may include moral decay, social discriminations, reinforcement of differences and inequality. This is caused by unequal power dynamics that often stymie meaningful interaction.




Market place as a public space have served well in bringing disparate groups of people together. It is a place of open exchange where social rules and status are suspended. Anthropologists and sociologists have debated and found the significance of cultural and social meaning of buying and selling in market place and the implication of this interaction to the diverse cultural backgrounds. A market creates an equal ground for diverse groups of people regardless of their class, social status, cultural and ethnicity background to interact freely. They are sites of social inclusion; theatricality and mediating differences (Watson 1581). This interaction brings about identity and integration. There is a lot of cultural exchange and understanding. Therefore market place as a setting is a public space with a lot of cultural significance.


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