University of Rochester

Anthropology Students Search for Keys to Interaction at Public Market

November 18, 2004

For the second year in a row, University of Rochester students are using the city’s public market as the focus of the Local and Global Market Research course in the Department of Anthropology.

The semester-long project centers on how varied experiences at the market rate from the perspective of different groups. For example, undergraduates have worked with a “rapid market assessment tool,” which has been used by researchers to study other farmers’ markets in the United States, along with interactive consumer surveys, observations of consumer/vendor interactions, and interviews with local residents and business owners.

Last year’s class concluded, among other things, that shoppers were drawn to the Rochester Public Market because of the direct communication between consumers and vendors that they couldn’t get anyplace else.

“This has been an excellent follow-up to last year’s study,” said Maryann McCabe, senior lecturer in the Department of Anthropology. “People love that interaction with vendors and now we’re exploring why that’s successful.”

This month, the class of 17 students finished its observations and is now interviewing local residents and nearby business owners. When the fact-finding is done, students will break up into five separate teams with each team assigned to prepare one section of the final report. The report will include a statistical analysis of the consumer surveys, summaries of qualitative data gathered through observation and interviews, and conclusions based on the results of their research.

A formal presentation and the final copy of the report will be given to city officials in December.