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Advertising and the metabolism of the city: urban spaces, commodity rhythms.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date1/08/2006
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Number of pages18
Original languageEnglish


In this paper I explore the role of outdoor advertising in organising city space and framing people’s experience of that space. I examine how UK outdoor advertising companies remap that space, segmenting and pricing certain areas of cities, and routes to and around cities. I argue that, in this cartographic, taxonomising role, advertising constitutes one of the forces that continually makes and remakes city space. Using Lefebvre’s concept of city rhythms, I argue that outdoor advertising acts to align the urban rhythms of travel and work with the commercial rhythms of product innovation, promotion, and the life cycle of the commodity. This creates an urban time –space of ‘commodity rhythms’ which has important implications for people’s experience of cities whilst engendering new connections between commodities and people moving around cities. I argue that this constitutes an adaptation of Foucault’s biopolitics where it is precisely the rhythmic connections between populations of people and populations (and life cycles) of commodities that are at stake: it is a mutation of the metabolism of city spaces.

Bibliographic note

"Cronin, Anne, 2006. The definitive, peer-reviewed and edited version of this article is published in Environment and Planning D : Society and Space, 24, 4, 615-632, 2006, 10.1068/d389t"

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