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Subalterns Approach to Chain Supermarketization: Modern Grocery Retailers Versus Independent Small Grocers

Qualitative Consumer Research

ISBN: 978-1-78714-492-7, eISBN: 978-1-78714-491-0

ISSN: 1548-6435

Publication date: 1 August 2017



This chapter aims to explore how supermarketization structure consumption of poor people and its sociocultural and moral consequences. In other words, this study expands the role of supermarketization in influencing consumer culture in Turkey.


An action research approach was used to analyze the in-depth interview data and field notes.


Before the supermarketization effect Turkish food retail industry was highly dominated by small, independent, and mostly family-owned single-location retailers: bakkal (neighborhood store which carries a wide range of both food and nonfood items with less than 100 square meters of floor space), manav (greengrocery), kasap (butcher), mandıra (dairy), fırın (bakery), and others. Bakkals – the focus of this research, make an analogy between the mushrooming of chain supermarkets and a cancerous tissue. The findings of this research reveal that not only in economic but also in social, moral, and cultural terms that these subaltern consumers cannot survive without bakkals.

Practical implications

The results of this research will provide some useful coping strategies for poverty confronting marketplace forces by reflecting on the grocery consumption patterns of subalterns. In addition, the findings will yield insights for unemployment among grocers by creating competitive advantage to maintain their existence against the influence of organized retailers.

Social implications

Any contribution in poverty alleviation shall appease concerns about the role of poverty in fostering undesired consequences such as terrorism. Since poor consumers have scant resources and little education to develop a culture in more legitimized forms, it is likely that they become more vulnerable due to marketization effects on their sociocultural evolution.


Given the level of public interest in organized retailers and subaltern consumers, there has been surprisingly little research on both foreign- and domestic-organized retailers’ impact on traditional small size grocers and subaltern consumers. In addition, sociocultural and moral aspects of retailing and consequences of retailing activities, particularly, on subaltern consumers have not been fully explored.



Tugba Kocabiyik, E. (2017), "Subalterns Approach to Chain Supermarketization: Modern Grocery Retailers Versus Independent Small Grocers", Qualitative Consumer Research (Review of Marketing Research, Vol. 14), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 95-110.



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