In the Shopping Centre: Experiments at the Limits of Ethnography

  • Sideeq Mohammed

Student thesis: Phd


What is the shopping centre, and how can the works of Gilles Deleuze, help us to understand it ethnographically? In light of a growing interest in Deleuze's work across both the humanities and social sciences (see Jensen and Rodje, 2010) as well as the long-standing calls to "take Deleuze into the field" (Bonta, 2005) and develop what research methodologies might emerge in conjunction which his philosophy (see Coleman and Ringrose, 2013), this thesis explores the possibilities of an ethnography which tries to take seriously the questions surrounding an ethical practice of working with philosophy in the field, grappling not only with Deleuze's concepts during and as part of fieldwork but attempting to meaningfully engage with the incongruities between the philosophical assumptions which underpin ethnographic practice and Deleuze's metaphysic (often labelled a "transcendental empiricism"); the most salient of these being "the subject". In unfolding the stories of the shopping centre, a behemoth of social machination which is both reflective and productive of the contemporary sociocultural milieu, this thesis will explore the various forms of "madness" which populate the field, threading connective lines between the highly plural groups of interlocutors, widely separated spaces and the varying rhythms and temporalities which can be said to correspond to the shopping centre. Focusing on central issues of bodies (space) and time as they are encountered in the shopping centre , this thesis shall take, as one of its major points of inquiry, the questions surrounding the writing of ethnography and the ways in which this represents and reaffirms the metaphysic which is taken-for-granted as a part of the ethnographic encounter; at times delving into what might be called the 'pataphysical or the absurd, playing with thick and thin description and taking various flights of madness in order to find ways of pushing against what Deleuze calls, the ossified and dogmatic images of thought at the core of Western philosophy.
Date of Award1 Aug 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorDamian O'Doherty (Supervisor) & Penelope Harvey (Supervisor)


  • shopping centre
  • ethnography
  • Gilles Deleuze

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