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Title: 'Flea-ting' Markets: Commodities, Consumption and Value in a Flea Market in Singapore
Keywords: Flea Markets, commodities, consumption, value, Singapore
Issue Date: 19-Aug-2011
Citation: CHAN LIN-NAH, LYNETTE (2011-08-19). 'Flea-ting' Markets: Commodities, Consumption and Value in a Flea Market in Singapore. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Modern consumption practices in `developed? economies and societies focus on mainly on `formal?, conventional retail spaces such as shopping malls. Indeed, shopping malls are primary and significant sites of consumption in the `modern? nation-state of Singapore, and play an important role both in its cityscape, as well as in the everyday consumption practices of consumers living in the city. On the other hand, `informal?, alternative retail spaces have been relegated to be no more than mere vestiges of the pre-modern past and as such, often not extensively nor intensively considered in studies of consumption in Singapore. Flea markets are one such informal retail setting that thrive in Singapore despite the proliferation of glitzy shopping malls scattered around every corner of the city. This ethnographic study explores one such key field site?a flea market selling mainly new and used garments as well as handicrafts, held at different locations in central Singapore on a regular basis and set up by a central organizer. The purported flexibility and ephemeral nature afforded by this form or retail set-up provides for interesting dynamics of social interaction and consumption not found in more formal retail spaces in Singapore. These complexities in the flea market are uncovered in this study, by providing perspectives and exploring the motivations of both sellers (vendors) and buyers (shoppers), as well as the interactions between them. Additionally, by giving credence and placing objects at the center of inquiry, this study also explores commoditization and singularization (Kopytoff, 1986) in the social life (Appadurai, 1986) and cultural biography (Kopytoff, 1986) of the things sold at the flea market, and reveals the role they play in influencing consumption practices in such a retail space, amidst the vast landscape of more formal retail spaces in Singapore.
Appears in Collections:Master's Theses (Open)

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