A Sociological Deep-Dive Into Big-Box Stores

Kate Briggs at The Washington Post:

The effect of Ernaux’s diary is to make this clear: These are the places where life happens, where the social orders are made apparent and reinforced, where societies are “built.” Her local big-box store is the site of ideas, feelings and consequential interactions, where the politics of class, race, gender and privilege get played out — along with more private fantasies and reveries.

“Look at the lights, my love!” is an injunction a young mother makes to her child, pushing her up the moving walkway at Christmastime; Ernaux describes her own “rush of pleasure” at the prospect of interrupting her writing to drive to Auchan. Stores like this are frequented by the unemployed, adults with young children, the elderly, teenagers, the lonely, the homeless.

But, Ernaux points out, “when you think of it, there is no other space, public or private, where so many individuals so different in terms of age, income, education, geographic and ethnic background, and personal style, move about and rub shoulders with each other.”

more here.