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Title: Shop-Soiled Worlds: Retailing Narratives, Typologies, and Commodity Culture
Authors: Goh, R.B.H. 
Issue Date: 2002
Citation: Goh, R.B.H. (2002). Shop-Soiled Worlds: Retailing Narratives, Typologies, and Commodity Culture. Social Semiotics 12 (1) : 5-25. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: This paper suggests that commodity relations and the social effects of production and exchange have been the focus of scholarship from Marx and classical political economists like Adam Smith onwards. Rather less attention has been focused on the shop as the locus of such relations, as the space of a cultural imagining in post-industrial society, and as a recurring symbol in many cultural documents. Some of the key literary accounts of the role and place of the emerging modern retail space in the nineteenth century indicate a particular spatial conceptualisation, of the 'shop-as-world'-totalising, compartmentalised, and recursive. This conceptualisation establishes the locus for later and more fantastical attitudes to the shop, which associate it with fate, a compelling power over the individual's actions and entire life, the objectification and dehumanisation of the individual in various ways, and ultimately decline and death. This cultural typology of the shop, admittedly one of several possible attitudes, is nevertheless recurrent enough to be significant, and to indicate some of the ways in which attitudes to commodities are displaced onto persons through the mediating agency and space of the shop. The overdetermined and anxious symbolism of the shop in such cultural texts is thus a means of simultaneously extending commodity attitudes and values to human relations, as well as of figuring the commodity in human terms of fatalism, deracination, repetition and death. © 2002 Taylor & Francis Ltd.
Source Title: Social Semiotics
ISSN: 10350330
DOI: 10.1080/10350330220130340
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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