Learning from the Past: Urban Ways to Reduce the Daily Complexity in Economic Practices

Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 21 (Juridicum)
Distributed Paper
Nina BAUR, Department of Sociology, Technische Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Linda HERING, Technische Universitat Berlin, Germany
We like to present findings from a comparative study carried out on the hairdressing market in four cities – two in Germany (Dortmund and Frankfurt) and two in Great Britain (Birmingham and Glasgow) – mixing ethnographical research with historical case studies and a mixed-mode survey.

Focussing on economic practices we studied how hairdresser manage their hairdressing salon successfully in different cities. Many aspects has to be considered on a daily basis such as the ranges of products and offers, opening hours and work schedules, interior decoration, training contents and needs, advertising and so on to achieve this goal however, it is not possible for one to continuously reflect on these aspects every minute of the working day. Thus, we found evidence that the practical knowledge of the place enables entrepreneurs and staff members to overcome this dilemma while utilizing their knowledge of approved routines and practices.

Adopting the idea of the Intrinsic Logic of Cities that tells us that cities cultivate their own specific constellations of knowledge and expression shown in their practices that make them distinguishable we construct the space of local economy as a figuration that is developed processual and depending on the hidden structures enscripted in the place over time. Comparable with an imprint one can track the conditions that pre-structure the figuration from a historical perspective. In particular the comparative study on the economic development of the city persuaded us that the specific way how complexity in economic practices is reduced builds on the cumulative texture which evolve over time and can not be ignored when discussing the present or future.