By: Mary Catherine Ellington
Hi my name is Mary Catherine Ellington and today I will be presenting on the cultural and social impact of Reidsville Market Place.
I chose to observe Reidsville Market Place, the central location in the heart of Downtown Reidsville, to gain a deeper insight into the motivations for individuals visiting this multipurpose space. This particular site serves as a facilitator for social and cultural interactions between a variety of individuals. An extensive array of business, recreational, and farmer’s-market based activities occur at this location on a weekly basis. The inclusive atmosphere of this space enhances the cultural and social aspects of Reidsville Market Place and its influence on the decision of individuals to visit this space. Ultimately, my research sought to answer the question: How do the cultural aspects and location of Reidsville Market Place influence the social interactions, behaviors, and activities of the variety of people that visit this site?
Multipurpose spaces, such as Reidsville Market Place, are significant sites in influencing social and cultural interactions through their location and cultural aspects. The objective of a study within the Journal of Leisure Research by Ching-hua, Sasidharan, Elmendorf, Willits et al., in 2005, examined an individual’s choice for recreation as a result of their gender and ethnicity (para. 1). The main premise of this source discussed the preferences for various park and environmental spaces, and the ethnic variation that results from these preferences. Particular motives of individuals for coming to my chosen space stemmed from the culturally rich atmosphere of Reidsville Market Place and its appealing nature to all genders, ethnicities, and ages. Additionally, multipurpose spaces emphasize their role as facilitators of urban and social interactions with one another and the environment as seen in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health by Jennings & Bamkole in 2019 (para. 2). These ideals along with a study in Physical Culture and Sport by Pawlikowska & Sawika in 2013, showcased the benefits of multipurpose spaces for accommodating individuals and allowing for physical activity and recreation to take place (p. 39).
Observational Data and Analysis
I first observed Reidsville Market Place and its various social and cultural interactions on September 28, 2020 during the mid-afternoon. Markers of identity that I observed included the clothes of the individuals, body language, and their verbal language and interactions with one another. Individuals displayed their identities through their styles of dress which correlated with their location within a rural farming community. For example, numerous men and women approached this location wearing simplistic clothes, farm-related clothing and hats, and various forms of tobacco symbols. These symbols and forms of identity adhered to the prominence of tobacco within this small town and tobacco-growing community. Henceforth, the styles and choices of dress of the people that visited Reidsville Market Place explicitly revealed their cultural identity and association within themselves to this particular area through its relation to their residential area.
Additionally, individuals expressed themselves and their identity through their body language and social interactions with others around them. The marketplace evoked an atmosphere that reiterated the close-knit feel of this community and the people that dwell within it. The friendly body language of the individuals, their decision to speak to one another and perusing of marketplace items, despite the pandemic, tied into the importance of this multipurpose space as a facilitator for social interactions and behaviors to take place. Moreover, the historical significance of this space is revealed through its relative location in the heart of downtown Reidsville. While this space is relatively new, it also easily molds into the surrounding culture and rich history of downtown and its relation to social interactions and change. The ability of this space to adapt to and suit the needs of all who visit reiterates its compatibility with the culture and location of various groups of people. The inclusive setting of this space showcases its valuable nature through the various activities of games, movie nights, and selling of goods that brings something of interest to all age, ethnic groups, and citizens.
My second observation of Reidsville Market Place occurred on September 29, 2020 at an earlier time in the afternoon. The naturalistic atmosphere and environment evoked the cultural feel that drives individuals to this space and serves as the basis for the social interactions that take place. Compared to previous observations, the individuals that visited this space tended to be younger children and older men and women. However, despite these differing age groups, the symbols and clothing styles remained relatively similar as did the social interactions. These everyday markers of identity stemmed from the familiarity of individuals within this space, while showcasing the cultural and social influences of this space on the individuals who dwell within this town. The interactions between young individuals stemmed from their delight in recreational activities of soccer and frisbee. These recreational activities influenced younger children visiting this site and interacting within this space, due to their own personal connection to this site.
The primary motivational reasons for coming to this site stem from its rich cultural relations, various business and recreational activities, and naturalistic feel. Additionally, the inclusive atmosphere and correlation to the farming nature of this community influences the variety of people who visit this site and their ranging ages, and common interests and interactions with one another at Reidsville Market Place. By witnessing the various social interactions between families and business transactions, I was able to observe that individuals from all backgrounds visited this site with the intention of not only acquiring products, but for the natural and social environment that this space evokes as well.
Ching-hua, H., Sasidharan, V., Elmendorf, W., Willits, F. K., & al, e. (2005). Gender and ethnic variations in urban park preferences, visitation, and perceived benefits. Journal of Leisure Research, 37(3), 281-306. Retrieved fromhttp://libproxy.lib.unc.edu/login?url=https://www-proquest-com.libproxy.lib.unc.edu/docview/201183440?accountid=14244
Jennings, V., & Bamkole, O. (2019). The relationship between social cohesion and urban green space: An avenue for health promotion. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(3), 452. Retrieved from https://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.libproxy.lib.unc.edu/pmc/articles/PMC6388234/?tool=pmcentrez&report=abstract.doi:10.3390/ijerph16030452.
Pawlikowska-Piechotka, A., & Sawicka, K. (2013). Sport and recreation grounds: Urban society expectations. Physical Culture and Sport, 57(1), 33. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.libproxy.lib.unc.edu/docview/1348519369?pq-origsite=summon. doi:http://dx.doi.org.libproxy.lib.unc.edu/10.2478/pcssr-2013-0006.