6 March 2014 – wet markets in Singapore

There is a new journal article in Urban Studies ( DOI: 10.1177/0042098014524613) written by Christopher Mele, Megan Ng and May bo Chim (all of the University at Buffalo, USA) about social space and markets:   “Urban markets as a ‘corrective’ to advanced urbanism: The social space of wet markets in contemporary Singapore”. The paper examines first, how social interactions in wet markets are wide ranging and informal, and occur among different ethnicities, generations, social statuses and classes and how this sociality has emerged as the fundamental purpose of wet markets; and second, (to quote the authors) ‘a deeper, contextual explanation for Singaporeans’ attachment to wet markets as a spatial ‘corrective’ to the excesses of advanced urbanism that offer  an increasingly rare social spaces unmediated by state governance or engulfed by the excesses of consumerism that dominate the political economic development of the citystate’. They suggest that ‘given the massive scale and rapid pace of contemporary urban redevelopment and accompanying social change, the collective attachment to wet markets anchors Singaporeans and provides a fragile basis for consistency and stability. In Singapore you don’t go the supermarket ‘to hang out!’ like you can on wet markets; they are viewed as a ‘social equaliser’.

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