Devrim Umut Aslan
I have been a PHD candidate and a member of an interdisciplinary research project on retail consumption in the region of Helsingborg, Handel Helsingborg, since June 2013. As a group of researchers from Service Management Institution, we are analyzing and mapping consumers practices from a holistic perspective and investigating the complex and shifting nature of shopping activity. My contribution to this research project has primarily been using video ethnography as a research method.
For my dissertation I conduct a research study on a street in Helsingborg, "Södergatan", that is the 'main' street of the stigmatized south city center. My research will explore the role of consumer practices in the ‘making’ of a street. Research locates itself within the academic inquiries of cultural geographies of retail geographies. Inspired by the “cultural” turn in consumer studies, retail spaces are discussed in the last two decades in a relational manner, and alongside cultural contexts and social aspects. It is done with the ‘thick’ empirical data that is collected through qualitative research methods. Nevertheless, the major focus has been on the ‘spectacular’ new shopping environments such as shopping malls, pedestrianized city centers and retail parks, in order to investigate the outcomes of vast retail-capital accumulation within the hands of limited actors after the 1980s. There is very little literature on retail geographies at urban margins, particularly on ‘low-end’ streets, and scant attention is paid to the role of consumers and their practices in shaping retail spaces. My aim is to examine the forms of shopping that are made possible by a 'low-end' street such as Södergatan, and how these shopping practices in turn reproduce and shape the street. The study will theoretically draw upon “practice theory”; a theory that takes practices as the smallest unit of social systems, and that has been proven to supply a solid framework in exploring people’s everyday actions. The application of practice theory in consumer studies provides hands-on approach on socio-material contexts of shopping. The major method employed will be “video-ethnography” which can be defined as conducting ethnographic research with the help of video recording. The reason for this choice is its capability to ‘synchronically’ appreciate the consumer practices, the consumer reflections and the material environment of the street.
In addition to my position at the institution as a PHD candidate, I also work as a retail strategist for Helsingborg City. In this position, I help to construct a solid ground for developing strategies and policies based on knowledge of retail trade in the region of Helsingborg, consisting of eleven municipalities.
I gained my bachelor degree from Bogazici University in Istanbul, at the Sociology Department. In Sweden, I earned my masters in, International Migration and Ethnical Relations at Malmö University and later at Lund University I earned a Master of Applied Cultural Studies. There I wrote my master thesis on migrant entrepreneurs who are from Turkey and running restaurants in Malmö. Additionally, both in Istanbul and in Gothenburg I studied theater science and was a part of amateur and semi-amateur theatre groups for almost ten years.
The research topics I am interested are:
- Visual Anthropology
- Consumer Research
- Migrant Entrepreneurship
- Retail Geography
- Food Anthropology
- Commerce and Art
- Urban Environments