Strategies of resistance? The role of alternative urban and virtual markets in neo-liberal economies [EN]
Lucy Norris (Kunsthochschule Berlin Weissensee)
B Lynne Milgram (OCAD University)
Lucy Norris, Lynne Milgram
Lucy Norris
R09 (in V)
Thursday 12 July, 14:30-16:15, Friday 13 July, 9:00-10:45 (UTC+0)

Short abstract:

What are the resistance tactics contemporary marketeers employ to counter neo-liberal 'modernization' policies? Papers explore how frontier traders navigate livelihood uncertainty by activating interstitial spaces and forging edgy entrepreneurial networks to mitigate hegemonic model constraints.

Long abstract:

Urban marketplaces across the globe host a vibrant mix of permanent, itinerant and ambulant trade, competing with the international commodity market system at both retail and wholesale levels. They provision local residents, act as distribution hubs, and offer a means to earn a livelihood, especially for women. Increasingly however, governments working within neo-liberal development frameworks embrace a vision of urbanization that promotes the concentration and formalization of trade, part of the 'convergence of marketplaces with market principles' posited by Applbaum (2005). For example, markets may be arbitrarily relocated, and the built environment reconfigured by replacing older, flexible spaces with more prescriptive, centrally controlled and sanitized market premises, dramatically disrupting market traders' livelihoods.

In response, many merchants resist the threat of hegemonic market structures by opening up interstitial spaces, forging innovative entrepreneurial relationships and connecting with consumers in unique ways. Papers may question how such emergent informal and periodic markets (e.g. selling fresh produce, crafts, industrial goods) persist and diversify within neo-liberal contexts? What tactics might merchants employ to mitigate the potential instability and uncertainty of their frontier trade, e.g. by embedding markets in wider moral economies? We extend these questions to edgy economic spaces such as virtual community marketplaces that resist domination by global capital, and foster economic models based on social entrepreneurship and social enterprise. Papers thus investigate the channels through which these emergent frontier markets are transforming trade within contexts of competing ideologies over urban public space, market modernization and the role of new virtual economies.