Investigating Urban Food Consumption by Mixing Different Visual Data

By: Julia Fülling   Linda Hering  

In our interdisciplinary research project, we investigate from a sociological and geographical perspective the spatial knowledge of consumers and traders when buying and selling fresh vegetables and fruits. Therefore our empirical analysis combines different visual methods such as photo documentation and mappings on several sales locations (supermarkets, grocery stores, discounter e.g.) in four different Berlin quarters with contrasting building structures (prefabricated building settlement, old building area, detached housing area) as well as social compositions. In the focused discussion, we want to invite other participants to trace together with us the specific spatial knowledge inscribed in the build and material environment that constitutes and is constituted by the daily practices and routines of consumers and traders. Through the joint analysis of the different visual data, we want to find out how actors refer to different spatial arrangements when interacting. Furthermore, we want to study the decisive role the food store itself plays for the communication and construction of knowledge considering incomplete information within the value chain. Questions we want to address might be: How are the stores embedded in the quarters? What kind of clusters of different company forms are established? To what kind of knowledge (e.g. about the origin of the fresh produce, the resident population, competitors …) do traders refer to when they select the goods? What information do consumers receive through the visual representations and the arrangement of a different store about the sorts of products and qualities they can purchase?

Retail Spatial Arrangements
Food, Politics, and Cultures
Focused Discussion

Julia Fülling

Research associate, Geography Department, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany

I am a geographer, research associate and PhD candidate at Humboldt University Berlin. In my PhD I want to find out about the different kinds of spatial knowledge consumers have and act upon when buying fresh produce. Thereby I am interested in different spatial scales and types of spatial knowledge consumers can make relevant through their everyday practices. I am especially interested in food, as this kind of product combines the supply and distinction function and offers a lot of different possible angles to be invesigated on, such as value chain analysis, sustainability, inequality, gender, ethnicity, visceral geographies,... . I have expirience in different qualitative research methods, such an different kinds of interviews, observations, visual and ethnographical methods. 

Linda Hering

Research associate, Institute of Sociology, Technical University Berlin, Germany
Berlin, Germany