If you would like to read more about my analysis of newsstands, you can do so in the following recent (and forthcoming) academic publications I’ve written:
I have recently revised my thesis into an academic monograph, which is in press with Palgrave-MacMillan UK, and is expected to be out in August 2012. The title of this book is Consumer Culture and the Media: Magazines in the Public Eye. Here is a short blurb about the book:
Consumer culture is synonymous with westernised societies. How did this particular ethic come to achieve so much success? This book argues that one reason is the seductive way in which it is promoted through the media. To demonstrate this, the book provides a detailed analysis of the case study of consumer magazine covers and argues that the ways magazines are displayed and sold in retail spaces, the literal glossiness of the texts, and the intertwined messages about sexiness, commodities and self-identity communicated by them combine to create a powerful and seductive advertisement for consumer culture. These strategies are not taken for granted, but questioned and put into the context of bigger scholarly debates about ‘the public’, ‘power’ and identity in neoliberal societies.
Chapter 3 of this book focusses on the newsstand. It is titled Media retail spaces as multimodal spectacles: The case of the newsstand.
I have also published the following journal articles about newsstands (the titles are links):
Iqani, Mehita (2011). Reading the newsstand: The signifiers of placelessness in London’s magazine retail sites. Space and Culture, 14 (4).
Abstract: The article discusses the relationship between the semiotics of magazine cover display and the geography of their retail spaces (newsstands). Based on a participant observation of newsstands, the article provides a reflexive account of the semiotic characteristics of diverse newsstands that arguably create a (limited yet significant) sense of “placelessness.” Newsstands are empirical objects that have been little studied. They are thus theoretically contextualized with reference to scholarship addressing magazines as well as the cultural geography of retail space. In the context of the latter, the spectacle and surveillance are highlighted as key framing concepts. The article then gives an account of the methodological approach adopted to study newsstands—participant observation, in particular a form modeled on the flâneur. The resulting account argues that newsstand semiotics create a sense of “placelessness” through three structural features evident at every newsstand visited: (a) the display of surveillance technologies, (b) the plentifulness of commodity stocks and imagery, and (c) a spectacular sense of luxurious full color textuality. The article concludes by arguing that the study of the semiotics of newsstands contributes to scholarship addressing the cultures of urban spaces of consumption, which in turn holds great potential for extending debates about the discursive and social power of media texts such as magazines.
Iqani, M. (2012). Just looking? Choice and constraint in practices of visual consumption at magazine newsstands. Consumption, Markets and Culture, 16.
Abstract: This article takes as its subject practices of looking that occur in London’s newsstands (magazine retail displays). Taking an ethnographic approach inspired by the flâneur and emphasizing the symbolic properties of consumption activities that take place in public retail space, it reports on an extensive participant observation of newsstands. A three-fold typology of visual consumption is put forward: ‘drifting’, ‘speed-shopping’ and ‘free-reading’. These practices of looking are then critically analysed in the light of theoretical perspectives on visual consumption, in particular the tension between arguments prioritising the pleasures and, conversely, the constraints that it entails. The analysis culminates in the argument that the most fruitful position is a dialectical one that acknowledges the conditional freedom of visual consumption.
More about Mehita Iqani.