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 Jack Pickering

Jack Pickering

Research student, School of Geography and Planning

Room -1.02, 43-45 Park Place, Cathays, Cardiff, CF10 3BB

Mae'r cynnwys hwn ar gael yn Saesneg yn unig.

I'm interested broadly in how issues of sustainability, justice, and politics, are embroiled in the practices of food consumption, and the practices that make consumption possible. My research aims to look at these issues without unduly prioritising either the consumer or the retailer, so that a picture of food consumption spaces emerges which demonstrates the interplay between these. 

I am currently in the early stages of fieldwork which will contribute towards my PhD thesis, which is looking at the the everyday practices of market traders at work across South Wales. If you would like to know more about this, please see the research tab or feel free to contact me! 

I am also interested in broader notions of environmental change and radical politics, as well as the implications of austerity for local government and community organisations. I have engaged in environmental/political activism across a number of campaigns in the past, and I continue to contribute intermittently towards the campaign for university divestment from the fossil fuel industry. 


Research interests

Previous to this position, I have undertaken a masters in social science research methods, and a BSc in Geography and Planning both within Cardiff University. In both of these projects, I have undertaken substantial research dissertations focussing on food and consumption spaces working closely with Mara Miele as supervisor. In addition to this, during my undergraduate degree I worked as a research intern for the Sustainable Places Institute on a project investigating opportunities for on-campus ecopedagogical initiatives. In addition to my work on food markets I have an interest in the interactions between the issues of social justice and sustainability surrounding food consumption, and am also interested in exploring new and innovative methods of qualitative research. An area of growing interest for me is the relationship between food consumption, small businesses and urban regeneration/gentrification.


MSc (Hons): Social Science Research Methods, Cardiff University (2015-2016)

Thesis: ‘Traditional’ Markets in South Wales: Understanding Change at Alternative Consumption Sites.


BSc (Hons): Geography and Planning, Cardiff University (2012-2015)

Thesis: ‘Frippery around the edges’; An Exploration of Consumption at Market Sites around Cardiff.



-Development and Underdevelopment (2016-2017): Seminar leader.

-Developing Research Methods (2016-2017): Seminar leader and laboratory demonstrator.

-Making Knowledge: Evidence and Practice (2017-2018): Seminar leader.


Managing change in Traditional Market Halls across South Wales: The everyday work of market-traders.

What am I researching?

Retail Markets exist in a changing world, and it is generally accepted that to remain successful and for their businesses to be viable that traders need to adapt as the face of retail, the local and national economic picture changes.  Often without some of the overheads that larger bricks and mortar businesses have, they might be able to be more flexible to meet these changes and markets can often provide low cost – and lower risk - places to try out new business ideas.   

Despite competition from high street retailers and supermarkets, many markets have survived over the last few decades and even thrived. Some of my previous research has looked at Swansea Market, where the traders there have made some interesting changes to their businesses to stay profitable, in terms of both product lines and stall set-up. My research project aims to understand how traders realize that these changes are needed, and how they implement those changes, in order to build a better picture of how market traders keep their stalls running successfully. The physical and technical kinds of changes (equipment on the stall, different kinds of stall arrangement) are particularly interesting for me, as these have not received direct attention from researchers yet, whereas this has been well detailed in supermarkets.

So in essence, I’m interested in where traders get their stock from, how they buy it, how they process it, how they organize and package it in order to it to sell it, and finally how they sell it onto the customer. Studying involves a technique known as ethnography, or in my specific case: ‘shadowing’. This is similar to what you do when you are training to learn a new job. Over the course of several days, or perhaps a day each week for a few weeks, I would accompany traders on their business (helping where I can) as an attempt to learn how the business operates and how the traders understand and provide for their customers’ needs.

Why is this important?

Market stalls generally provide better value for money than the high street and supermarket, and also provide services and a human touch that much retail in UK town centres is said to be sadly lacking. There is also evidence to suggest that markets play a vital social and community role, and increase footfall for the businesses around them, making them a vital part of the high street and towns in general. Markets are under competitive threat from other forms of retail, and while it seems like markets in some cases are struggling, or doing well, I do not think that a lot of the research so far is capturing well what traders are doing differently to adapt to these changes, as most often it looks at indicators of success rather than details of what businesses are doing.

I want to add to what the National Association of British Market Authorities and the National Marker Trader Federation are doing to help traders by building up an in-detail picture of how some of the businesses have adapted, or are adapting.

Start date: October 2016

Completion date: October 2019

Funding source: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

Funding source


Mara Miele

Professor Mara Miele

Professor in Human Geography, Director of Postgraduate Research

Andrew Williams

Dr Andrew Williams

Lecturer in Human Geography

Dr Anthony Ince

Dr Anthony Ince

Lecturer in Human Geography

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