Streetwise sales and the social order of city streets

Nick Llewellyn*, Robin Burrow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper analyses how a Big Issue vendor approached passers-by and how they responded, how recognizable courses of social and economic activity were interactionally produced from initiation through to some conclusion. The paper recovers how the vendor's work was contextually embedded in the urban landscape, how it was constrained by, and actively shaped, the social order of the street. Drawing on video-audio recordings the paper contributes to a growing body of ethnographic and ethnomethodological research which has emphasized the embodied, contingent and interactional character of economic activity. By examining such materials, the paper is well positioned to describe how the vendor found his market on the street, social interventions that propelled passers-by into buying behaviour. The paper sheds light on now familiar encounters which occur millions of times each week in the UK and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-583
Number of pages23
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2008


  • Ethnomethodology
  • Markets
  • Street selling
  • The Big Issue
  • Video studies

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