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Introduction: markets in modernization: transformations in urban market space and practice, c. 1800 – c. 1970

Stobart, JON and Van Damme, I (2016) Introduction: markets in modernization: transformations in urban market space and practice, c. 1800 – c. 1970. Urban History, 43 (3). pp. 358-371. ISSN 0963-9268

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Abstract

This special issue addresses the changing role and later history of physical, face-to-face markets for goods, which in modern cities all over the world are mainly or wholly used by individuals and families for consumption purposes. Our focus is on the urban market as a specific urban place and its shifting relationship with important alterations in the governance, society and economy of modern, industrial cities (until c. 1970). The main intention of this collection is to move beyond traditional (western) views of the so-called ‘decline’ of these urban marketplaces. In the history and theorization of the type of cities that came into being all over the world in the wake of economic and political transformations in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, ‘markets’ are usually thought of in terms of their institutional meaning. They are referred to as abstract notions of commerce and exchange, be it in commodities, labour, cash or shares. Seldom are they studied as real, physical marketplaces within cities; as entities that take up space; function in changing production and distribution chains and evolve as a result of changes in wholesaling, retailing, consumption and the political regulation of urban space, society and economy. Indeed, it is often argued that ‘marketplaces’ in this spatially delimited and concrete sense ceased to be of importance once modernization took hold of urban landscapes all over the world. That this is not the case is amply demonstrated by the articles gathered here: markets continued to be vibrant parts of a wide variety of towns and cities across the globe.

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