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Research shows that weekly markets in Catalonia are a space for creativity and diversity

Research shows weekly markets in Catalonia are a space for creativity and diversity

Weekly market on the Plaça Major in Vic. Credit: Vic City Council

As part of the European project Moving Marketplaces, the postdoctoral researcher Maria Lindmäe, member of the Culture and Socio-Ecological Dynamics Research Group (CaSEs) of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra-Barcelona (UPF) Department of Humanities, is the author of an article that soundscape of different weekly markets in Catalonia. In the research, the author explores the acoustic tactics and different types of creativity that sellers use to market their products.

The article entitled “‘¡Tengo gloria bendita!’: pitching and the sonic production of place atmos under increasing market regulation,” published recently in the magazine Cultural Geographiesshows that pitching, rather than being an illegal racket—as classified by current market regulations—is a cultural tradition that involves affect, humor and creativity, and allows social groups that rarely have a say in the public sphere can be heard.

“As a cultural and professional practice, vendor pitches produce soundscapes that diversify public space in sociocultural terms, and can express a subtle desire to recognize the difference,” says Maria Lindmäe. She adds: “The ‘noisy’ market represents an aspect of intangible cultural heritage that attracts customers precisely because of its diversity and spontaneity, as opposed to culturally homogenized malls.”

Study focused on the markets of Vic and Trinitat Vella, with three types of suppliers

The author focuses on two markets with quite different regulatory characteristics. On the one hand, there is the traditional market of Vic, whose city council allocates specific resources for its administration; and on the other side the Trinitat Vella market, in the northeast of Barcelona, ​​which was founded more recently and does not have such an established administrative structure.

The author presents three types of market sellers: repeaters, influencers and those who have been silenced, which allows her to illustrate the different levels of creativity at play in challenging market regulations that prohibit this “noisy” form of advertising.

“By describing three types of salespeople, I tried to show that their sonorous interventions add layers to the market atmosphere, making them more lively, creative and sometimes more entertaining,” explains Maria Lindmäe.

The author adds that “vendors can occupy a certain area through their voice and that customers and other merchants are sometimes immersed in affective realms that encourage people to interact and associate positive memories with the market.”

The research was based on semi-structured interviews with traders and market managers, follow-up of the traders, field recordings and observations. The data used was collected between June 2020 and July 2021, when Catalan street markets were subject to health control measures that changed frequently and required greater distances between stalls and the wearing of masks.

Excessive control of sound can constitute discrimination

The paper reminds municipal authorities that run weekly markets that over-controlling noises is a way of deciding which social groups can and cannot be heard (and seen) in public spaces, and therefore may be discriminatory. “In addition to intervening in markets, regulation can create boundaries and discrimination at various levels. By cataloging myriad forms of behavior and practices as illegal, it imposes dominant rules of civility and order in public spaces, simultaneously excluding practices that are not covered. under such definitions,” the author states.

In this sense, according to Maria Lindmäe, since most market vendors, whose sound advertisements describe their work, are Spanish merchants of Gypsy and South Asian ethnicity, the regulations regarding noise in markets are especially damaging to these already systematically marginalized ethnic groups. “By banning their pitching, salespeople are marginalized from society and the legitimacy of their profession remains uncertain,” she says. Thus, according to the author, the ban adds to other pre-existing forms of discrimination against immigrants and Spanish Gypsies, who are systematically excluded from more conventional professions due to migration regimes, ethnicity or social class.


Duplicating the success of platforms like Netflix in the offline world


More information:
Maria Lindmäe, “¡Tengo gloria bendita!”: pitching and the sonic production of place atmospheres under increasing market regulation, Cultural Geographies (2022). DOI: 10.1177/14744740221086260

Provided by Universitat Pompeu Fabra – Barcelona

Quote: Research shows weekly markets in Catalonia are a space for creativity and diversity (2022, June 15) retrieved on June 16, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-06-weekly-catalonia-space-creativity- diversity. html

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