Markets and diversity: an overview

by Yolande Pottie-Sherman

Working Papers WP 11-03
April 2011
ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

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This document provides a synthetic overview of a project to build an inventory of key literature on the subject of “markets and diversity.” The first phase of the project involved a literature search and compilation of one hundred bibliographic items and assembly of as many digital copies of these items as possible. This literature was gathered using various databases and Internet search tools and a range of search terms (some creativity was required given the reality that a simple search for markets and diversity yields thousands of items, almost none of which are related to an ethnically diverse, physical marketplace). I employed search terms specific to regional marketplaces and types of markets (i.e., bazaar, souq, fea, feira, open-air market (OAM), open market, farmers’ market, street market) with various combinations of markers of diversity (i.e., ethnic, immigrant, class, race, gender), as well as more specific thematic terms (i.e., cosmopolitanism, entrepreneurship, inclusion, interaction, Orientalism, and so on). No parameters were set with regards to time period, region, or publishing date, although a concerted effort was made to find recent work in the field. While there has been a great deal of research on marketplaces, and debate about the social nature of economic exchange (often using the marketplace as a field-site), remarkably little research focuses on the “diversity” of “markets” as we understand it. I have thus included recent work on marketplaces not focused on diversity per se (i.e., on the relationship between market traders and the state, the political economy of markets, and contact with globalization/modernity in the marketplace), as well as some of the economic anthropological/sociological literature on the social dynamics of trade.

The second phase of this project involved the annotation of forty of these bibliographic items. I selected those that focused most specifically on diverse markets. For each of these annotations, I provide the 1) disciplinary background of the author(s), and where possible, their institution; 2) research questions; 3) conceptual framework; 4) group studied; 5) methodology; 6) findings; and 7) significance of the research to the field. This paper, as the final phase of the project, provides a synthetic overview of the literature for publication as a working paper.

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