Appealing to the senses: Approaching, sensing, and interacting at the market’s stall

Discourse and Communication 16 (2):160-199 (2022)
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Sensorial access to products in shop encounters constitutes a crucial aspect of the appeal to customers. This paper examines sensorial engagements with products in a specific ecology with a focus on the possible opening of a shop encounter. When passers-by stroll from one stand to another, open to local findings, unplanned discoveries, and emergent opportunities to buy, they orient to the sensory appeal of the products, becoming possible customers, stopping in front of a counter and engaging in a social interaction with sellers and other customers. The analysis focuses on multisensoriality in action, studying how customers and sellers treat the sensorial qualities of the products, the relevance of the sensory engagement of the customer with their materiality, and their involvement in the social encounter with the seller, including normative expectations related to sensing and buying. It includes a discussion of how under Covid-19 sensorial access to products was restricted and the sensorial, interactional, normative, and economic consequences of these restrictions. Based on video recordings of market encounters, and on an ethnomethodological and conversation analytic approach of multimodality and multisensoriality, the paper reflects on how appealing to the senses of sight, touch, smell, and taste is methodically orchestrated, and its consequences for the interaction with the seller, the sensorial experience, and the economic transaction.



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Lorenza Mondada
University of Basel

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The Arcades Project.Walter Benjamin, Howard Eiland & Kevin Mclaughlin - 1999 - Science and Society 65 (2):243-246.
Categorization and the moral order.Lena Jayyusi - 1984 - Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Body Torque.Emanuel Schegloff - 1998 - Social Research: An International Quarterly 65.

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