Nov 20, 2020 in Law

Life in a Market


For my ethnography group study I have chosen a market. In a market, there are all types of people with diverse behavior. I will observe character and behavior of the sellers and their supervisors. The research follows the next structure, first is the identification of the place settings and people involved, a summary of observation followed by explanation of their behavior.


Research Context

PJ's Gourmet Market is not far from where we live. It is three blocks away from our house and the participants are people that I know since they are living in our neighborhood. It is a small market in our town, Durango. I observed people behavior ranging from supervisors to sellers and buyers. The survey was done from February 28, 2016 to March 2, 2016. I was in the market at the better part of the day during all the four days. On February 28th, Sunday; I was there from morning to evening, but I made my observation in three sessions, at 9:00 a.m. - 10 a.m., 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m., and 5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. For the next three days, I observed twice a day: 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. My surveillances focused on three main groups of characters: customers, stall owners and their workers.

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Observation Summary

PJ's Gourmet Market is a food market selling groceries mainly, and also fruits and cereals. The market is divided into stalls, each having a stall-owner and a worker or a group of workers. Each stall has an entrance where the customer comes through, a display of the various foods and a side-counter where the owner sits and also the money is kept. I noticed that more stalls were located near the market entrance compared to the interior. There was a clear distinction in terms of dressing for the stall-owners who looked neat and smart compared to their workers who were dressed in aprons and boots.

The interaction patter observed in the market included:

  1. The customer walks in through the market entrance and surveys looking for the products needed and the displayed prices. There was a crowd around the stalls that were located near the entrance as they appeared busier than the ones inside. Workers from the interior stalls were forced to go to the entrance and lure some customers leading to conflicts among themselves.
  2. He/she walks to a particular stall; greetings are exchanged and then gives his/her order in form of a shopping-list.
  3. In most stalls, the workers were noted to be the ones who did the welcoming.
  4. A conversation ensues between the customer and the worker/stall-owner.
  5. The employee would help in selection of the items needed. However, during bills settlements and bargaining, customers referred to the stall owners.
  6. The purchase can be made or the customer moves to the next stall and the process starts again.


It is expected that people like what is easily available, high quality and cheap; they avoid tension hence the crowdedness on the near stalls. Customer behavior also entails maximizing utility and this involves lower prices and more quantity which dictated the choice of stall. The exterior of the stall in terms of clear and neat display attracted or distracted the buyers. There are customers who are easily convinced, and the workers from the interior stalls took advantage of this. However, due to the rivalry workers could create a conflict over a customer leading to annoyance of the buyer.

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Once a customer settles on a particular stall based on the quality of the displayed products, he/she advances to the seller; the worker in most cases. There were stalls where the client would receive a hand-shake or a word of greeting. This provides the customer-seller relationship, with the hand-shake showing a higher level of closeness.

Some clients gave a written shopping-list and then sit, waiting for them to be served, showing a higher level of trust. Others watched keenly to ensure the order was packed accordingly with the right quantity and quality. Contrary, other buyers gave their orders orally and there was some delay as they were trying to recall some of the needed food. After the available items were packed, the worker counted the total bill then referred the buyer to the stall-owner. The customer would then bargain with the stall owner to get a discount, some owners were observed to be quick in appreciating their clients and encouraging future purchase by allowing discounts. However, others would just submit the bills resulting to dissatisfaction of the customer.

A customer would move to the next stall because either he/she was not satisfied, or due to poor service performance, unavailability of needed items or poor food quality. Poor service performance was due to lack of the proper attention, greetings or poor negotiation from previous stalls. Stalls that were poorly stocked triggered less attention. As a result, customers left with few items purchased. Others were well stocked but the products were not fresh.

In addition to the interaction between the buyer and the seller, other observations were made. These included:

The relationship between the stall-owner and the worker: some were free and comfortable hence a jovial mood, while others were harsh and dictatorial leading to a tense attitude.

The relationship between different stalls: They were co-operative, in case a particular product was missing in a shopping list the workers would get from another stall and later conduct an inter-stall compensation.

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From the study conducted above, different people in a market have different personalities. Specific character attributes determine the behavior and reaction of the other person which defines whether the sale will take place. Since there are many stalls, every owner wants to have more customers and every customer wants the best service on goods purchased. Therefore, this ethnography study helped to conclude that there are different characters in different group settings.


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