The Newsstand Project

The Newsstand Project is a website aimed at providing a visual record of a socio-semiotic and ethnographic enquiry into one element of the retail landscape: magazine point-of-sale displays.

Magazines are material paper-and-ink media artefacts which are to some extent already being replaced by electronic forms (how enduring this digital revolution will be is an open question). Either way, these web pages provide a snapshot in time recording (and critically analysing) the cultural geography of these spaces. To some extent inspired by Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project (which was unfinished in his lifetime, and only published in fragments post-humously), the Newsstand Project offers fragments of visual and written fieldnotes from an extensive participant observation undertaken in 2007-8.

Most of the photographs included on this site were taken by the blog author in central London, UK between September 2007 and January 2008, with permission from the owners or managers of the stores in which the newsstands were situated. The images were taken as part of a visual ethnography for a research project examining the ways in which discourses of consumption are constructed in magazine covers constituted collectively as a genre and in public retail space. For a little more detail on my approach to collecting data, please visit the Methods page or read the publications listed on the Analysis page.

The images included on each page in this website are ‘raw’ – they should be understood as a set of visual field notes rather than a final, polished form of analysis. If you’re looking for the latter, you can find the closest I can get to ‘final, polished’ writing in my academic publications (there are links on the Analysis page). I have thematized the newsstand photos into pages, but I am very aware that many of the images uploaded could fit into several different categories, so please don’t think I’m being simplistic.

The content of this website is made public in the spirit of academic and critical enquiry. It is intended to offer a resource for researchers and students in media and cultural studies (indeed, the social sciences and humanities broadly) with an interest in consumer culture, consumer media, retail geographies, and social semiotics. Visitors to this website are welcome to use the images that they find here on condition that you reference this site and let me know that the images were useful to you. Furthermore, you may only share, use or reproduce these images if you are engaged in education, non-profit artistic or creative work, critical analysis or commentary, research or social and community activism. I do not wish for any of these photographs to be used for commercial purposes (even though I can’t imagine how they would be, at least I’ve stated that explicitly here).

If you have any suggestions about improving the site or links to external content that might be relevant, feel free to send them my way.

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