Research Repository

Bazaar aesthetics: On excess and economic rationality

Deka, Maitrayee (2021) 'Bazaar aesthetics: On excess and economic rationality.' International Journal of Cultural Studies, 24 (3). pp. 470-484. ISSN 1367-8779

1367877920971640.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

Download (125kB) | Preview


For more than a century, social theoretical writings on consumer culture and commodity aesthetics have concentrated on the world of capitalist commodities and commercial spaces: on brands, shopping malls and global media culture. Popular commodity aesthetics have had a marginal presence in the literature. However, today, as the popular masses are entering commercial culture to an unprecedented extent, through cheap electronics, ubiquitous internet connectivity and accessible knock-offs, popular commodity aesthetics have increased in importance. In this article, I use fieldwork in Delhi’s electronics bazaars to develop an inside perspective on the popular aesthetic of the bazaar. I argue that bazaars are characterized by excess: the excess of a seemingly chaotic architecture, household objects, and unhindered sociality. The excess is not simply a symptom of an underlying irrationality. It is deeply embedded in the social and economic life of bazaars and contributes towards the ability of small-scale commerce to endure and survive.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: aesthetics, bazaars, commons, excess, piracy, rationality
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2020 13:59
Last Modified: 18 Aug 2022 13:23

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item