Book chapter

Shops as the bricks and mortar of place identity: A comparison of shopping streets in Brussels, Paris and Geneva

Published inMoving Cities – Contested Views on Urban Life, Editors Ferro, L. (et al.), p. 97-114
PublisherWiesbaden : Springer
Publication date2018

The chapter authored by Maxime Felder and Loïc Pignolo proposes a comparative analysis of shopping streets in three different French-speaking cities: Geneva, Paris and Brussels. The research draws on a strong line of research in urban sociology and urban studies on consumption in the city, including a comparative perspective. Sharon Zukin, for instance, has been working on this issue for several years (Zukin et al , 2009; Zukin, 2012; Zukin, Kasinitz & Chen, 2015) In this text, the shops are viewed as “key elements of the objectification of a place identity”, where it can be negotiated and manufactured. Through observation, formal encounters and interviews with shop owners, shopkeepers and shop users, the authors build a story of each street, mobilising buildings, everyday practices, representations and the context and history of surrounding neighbourhoods. In each street, we get to know some businesses and some local actors In all the portrayed cases, the authors argue, shops are fundamental elements of the narratives about local identity, constituting physical markers of its different aspects. Felder and Pignolo share with the reader three ways in which shops may be interpreted as the “bricks-and-mortar of place identity”: as material components of the streetscape, designed by the owners whose decisions can affect the street's look and feel; as symbolic means used to objectify place identity, and finally by allowing or restricting interpretations, through their mere presence. Some shops might not cohere with a certain attempt to make sense of a place, and thus force the person or group to adjust the narrative and corresponding practices. The authors conclude by asserting that shops help narratives on place identity to retain coherence and stability, suggesting, however, that not all shops have the same urban influential capacities.

  • Street
  • Place
  • Image
  • Identity
  • Rue
  • Quartier
  • Identité
  • Commerces
  • Shops
  • Practices
  • Swiss National Science Foundation - 155747
Citation (ISO format)
FELDER, Maxime, PIGNOLO, Loic. Shops as the bricks and mortar of place identity: A comparison of shopping streets in Brussels, Paris and Geneva. In: Moving Cities – Contested Views on Urban Life. Wiesbaden : Springer, 2018. p. 97–114. doi: 10.1007/978-3-658-18462-9_7
Main files (1)
Book chapter (Published version)

Technical informations

Creation02/14/2018 4:18:00 PM
First validation02/14/2018 4:18:00 PM
Update time03/15/2023 7:52:09 AM
Status update03/15/2023 7:52:09 AM
Last indexation01/17/2024 2:16:56 AM
All rights reserved by Archive ouverte UNIGE and the University of GenevaunigeBlack