RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2018

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80 UnCultivated Landscapes of Consumption (1)
Affiliation Food Geographies Working Group
Convenor(s) Jack Pickering (Cardiff University, UK)
Mara Miele (Cardiff University, UK)
Chair(s) Mara Miele (Cardiff University, UK)
Timetable Wednesday 29 August 2018, Session 3 (14:40 - 16:20)
Room Glamorgan Building - Council Chamber
Session abstract Whether it be through neoliberal justifications for retail development (Zukin et al., 2009) or through accounts of the social value of convivial marketplaces (Watson 2008), it is widely recognised that spaces for consumption play crucial roles in contemporary public spaces and the city beyond their economic functions. Despite significant work looking at the role of the senses and materiality in consumption practices, and another similarly significant body of work looking at the exclusionary and inclusionary effects of consumption cultures, it is not clear that the intersection between these has been fully explored. The position of agency within these attempts has been contested recently as seen in the recent practice turn (Warde, 2015), and this is the central theoretical motivation for this session. The consumer is involved in consumption, but beyond that, there is much debate on how far their agency can be said to extend. Empirically, we would welcome attention to consumption spaces that could be described as:

- Marginalised/Marginal
- Informal/Unregulated
- Neglected/Overlooked
- Emergent/Controversial

The aim of this paper session is to therefore bring together researchers from different fields, within and outside of geography who are working on the (mis)management and (dis)organisation of consumption spaces. Within urbanism and consumption studies there has been much attention to spectacular forms of consumption sites such as malls (Shields, 1989; Goss, 1993; Jewell, 2016; Staeheli and Mitchell, 2006), while other approaches to consumption and consumer culture have tended to coalesce around individual or collective experiences (Warde, 2015), neglecting more isolated sites (Findlay and Sparks, 2012). In response to growing attention to how mundane varieties of consumption spaces are organized, this session aims to gather those aiming to investigate these spaces as co-produced geographical phenomena.

Linked Sessions UnCultivated Landscapes of Consumption (2)
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: ac2018@rgs.org
The spaces of marginalised male consumption practices: convivial spaces for men who eat none, or less and better meat.
Emma Roe (University of Southampton, UK)
Paul Hurley (University of Southampton, UK)
This paper addresses themes of male friendship/isolation and (care for) non-human lives in the organisation of men’s consumption spaces. It argues that paying attention to men’s consumption spaces – the domestic, eating-out and food retailing – can contribute to understanding how the cultures and socialities of masculinity feature in organised or self-directed moves towards more sustainable non-animal based protein food consumption. How are emergent, marginalised, over-looked eco-masculinities performed in these spaces? Whilst there is a significant literature on food consumption practices there is very little that specifically explores mens’ choice of food, cooking and social eating practices outside of professional and celebrity chefs, or domestic foodwork (for exception see Neuman et al 2016, Szabo 2013, Meah 2013), and specifically those that reflect an ethos of care for environmental sustainability.

The AHRC funded Man Food research project ran a series of three workshops with three different groups of men – ‘green men’, for whom environmentalism and food is a hobby, ‘exercise men’ whose hobby is bodily self-improvement through exercise and food, and men in receipt of emergency food aid, often isolated through material and social circumstance. The research aims to understand and ultimately work to reduce animal-based protein consumption practices to address the global need to reduce livestock production. The research fostered horizontal homosociality (Hammarén 2014) and an ecological connection to the nonhuman world – through active, participatory engagement (cooking and social eating) with the materiality of food.

The taste of austerity: exploring food banks in East Bristol
Lucy Jackman (Swansea University, UK)
Intimately tied to our identity, food holds an incredibly important role in our day-to-day lives and our relationships with others. How and what we consume may elicit a sensorial memory, say something about our political and cultural values, or act as an ‘affective building-block’ in home building in new places (Hage, 1997). But how might this change in a context of food insecurity? The rise of food insecurity is widely considered to be one of the most prominent legacies of austerity in the UK today, and the food bank, a shining symbol of the inequality that has developed. However, the experiences of those using these spaces is underrepresented. Consequently, we do not know enough about the role of the food bank in the lifeworlds of those who access them.

Drawing on early findings from a multi-site ethnography in East Bristol, this presentation explores the role of the food bank in the everyday lives of people experiencing food insecurity in multicultural urban spaces. It will unpack who precisely uses these services, and suggest that they are neither the only way in which people get by or seek out support, nor the ‘solution’ that everybody in such situations need. It will furthermore explore how agency is exercised in such contexts, how small instances of decision-making transform experiences of using a food bank, and the significance of limited choice if ‘you are what you eat’. Whilst grounded in semi-structured interviewing and participant observation, the incorporation of cooking as an elicitation is integral to the methodology in this project.

"What “makes” local high streets meaningful? A video-ethnography of shopping practice at urban margin
Devrim Umut Aslan (Lund University, Sweden)
"This study investigates shopping activities on local high streets. It examines also shopping’s role in shaping these streets into places of meaningful shopping, and important parts of urban landscapes, in the context of global retail restructuring. Södergatan, a local high street in Helsingborg -a middle-sized city in Sweden, is chosen as a case for the inquiry, where was initially established as the main street of an emerging working-class district in the 19th century (Folklivsgruppen, 1987; Ranby, 2005; Högdahl, 2007).

Since 1980s, there have been some substantial shifts at the global scale regarding the organization of retail, and in turn, its spatial manifestations in the cities (Wrigley & Lowe, 1996, 2002; Mansvelt, 2005; Kärrholm & Nylund, 2011; Aslan & Fredriksson, 2017). However, the main empirical focus has been mostly on the ""spectacular"" new shopping environments (Crewe, 2000; Mansvelt, 2005). The limited research on local high streets disclosed that these “other” retail geographies, after all, function as significant cultural, social and economic hubs in our cities, and they develop innovative resilience strategies dealing with global impacts (Rabikowska, 2010; Hall, 2012; Findlay & Sparks, 2012; Zukin, 2012; Zukin et al., 2016; Carmona, 2015; Clossick, 2017). However, the existing studies mostly focused on local high streets in so-called global cities (Sassen, 2005), where acquired peculiar qualities through contemporary globalization. Additionally, these studies seldom paid attention to consumer practices, such as shopping, to understand and make sense of these local high streets.

Aiming to contribute to the literature developed in the field of retail geography after “cultural turn” (Wrigley & Lowe, 1996; Crewe, 2000, 2003; Gregson et al., 2002; Goss, 2004; Wrigley, 2009), this research utilize another body of literature, “practice theory” in formulating shopping as a social practice, and investigating its co-constitutive and recursive interrelationship with retail places and retail geographies (Schatzki, 1996; Schatzki et al., 2001; Reckwitz, 2002; Warde, 2005, 2014; Shove et al., 2012). The major method employed in the study is video-ethnography, due to its capability to synchronically appreciate shopping activities, consumers’ reflections, the sensory and material environment of the street, and the movement within (Belk & Kozinet, 2005; Pink, 2007; Jewitt, 2012)."
Re-usable coffee cups: consumers, ethics and strategies of responsibilisation
Damian Maye (University of Gloucestershire, UK)
James Kirwan (University of Gloucestershire, UK)
Gianluca Brunori (University of Pisa, Italy)
This paper examines the recent debate about plastic waste and coffee cups (only one in 400 are currently recycled in the UK). Public and private initiatives are emerging to promote retailers and consumers to adopt re-usable coffee cups to protect the environment. These ‘strategies of responsibilisation’ have been mobilised in response to the moral problematisation of waste (disposable coffee cups). Campaigns responsibilise consumers and coffee chains and also involve governments. The paper develops a framework which conceptualises waste as a ‘hot topic’ in the consumption landscape (in this case plastic waste and recycling coffee cups), which when problematised at the scale of the public sphere can be actioned through different strategies of responsibilisation designed to enable more circular economies of plastic. We draw mostly on case material from the UK to operationalise the framework, but German and Norwegian examples are introduced too, where government initiatives linked to plastic recycling have been in place for some time. The analysis suggests that a charge for ‘poor behaviour’ has worked better than a positive incentive. Responsibilisation is most potent when government intervenes or when political responsibility is actioned by the industry in combination with government, consumer groups and other NGOs. This analysis extends earlier work on responsibility and consumer ethics, particularly within geography and sociology, and further problematises the notion of ‘responsibility’ in food waste economies (cf. Evans et al., 2017), connecting questions about consumption and food waste to wider questions about morals, ethics and governance.
Controversial Spaces of Consumption- Consumption Practices of Organic Shop Customers in Bengaluru
Mirka Erler (University of Göttingen, Germany)
Following concerns about health and food safety, an increasing number of organic shops emerge in Bengaluru. Nevertheless, they can be described as a marginal space of consumption as they are ostensibly accessible only for the city’s growing (upper) middle-class. Following the assumption that the retail format influences consumption practices (Lee 2018) the question arises: Will the increase of organic shops lead to more sustainable consumption practices (Warde 2005) or does it merely foster othering (Anantharaman 2015) of non-organic buyers?
We carried out qualitative observations in five different organic shops in Bengaluru. We accompanied costumers (70) during their purchase in these shops while asking pre-formulated questions as well as situational questions about the observed shopping practices. These data were complemented by interviews with shopkeepers and managers (6).
We found that health and food safety were clearly the main motivations to buy organic food. Sustainability concerns were seen, if at all, as something of secondary importance. I argue that the reported and observed practices to achieve a better health or food safety can often make a positive contribution to other fields of sustainability. For instance, the consumption of millets for health reasons, as reported by costumers, can have environmental benefits as the crop can be grown rain fed. However, the findings also suggest that especially urban lower (middle-) class people might be excluded from this development in various ways. Bengaluru’s organic shops are therefore spaces of consumption which might have controversial effects.