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New Left Review 5, September-October 2000

What does a survey of the fare in different videostores tell us about the social geography of big cities in the West? How should the quotient of violence in it be calibrated? The logic of the ghetto in today’s entertainment industry.




Some time ago, in a PhD seminar on cultural markets at Columbia University, a group of students decided to conduct a rapid investigation of New York’s videostores. We selected five different areas—the Upper West Side (intellectual petty bourgeoisie), the Upper East Side (wealthy Manhattan), the East Village (bohème), the Bronx (focusing on a Puertorican area), and Harlem (African-Americans)—and for each of them we analysed the composition of a half-dozen videostores that seemed reasonably representative. That’s not the way to do statistical research, a sociologist friend told me, and he is certainly right. But I still hope our findings may be of some interest.

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Franco Moretti, ‘Markets of the Mind’, NLR 5: £3

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