Contact and identity: The experience of ‘China goods’ in a Ghanaian marketplace

This was my Masters dissertation that was recently published in the Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology.  The title is:  “Contact and identity:  The experience of ‘China goods’ in a Ghanaian marketplace”.  It was quite the experience conducting this research – I spent pretty much everyday of 3 weeks wandering around the marketplace talking to a whole lot of vendors selling a bricolage of goods.  I only explored the perimeter of the market as its dense mazes would have required a few more months to navigate.  What a great experience – thanks to all the sellers who spoke to me during their down time (between 12-2pm, the hottest time of the day, which coincidentally is also the slowest time for business and my prime interview time!).

I’ve posted the abstract below.  I’m pretty sure you need an institutional login to access the paper, but if anyone would like a copy, please contact me or just comment below.


The rise in Chinese traders and increased availability of low-cost imported goods benefits consumers, challenges local African retailers and is a point of tension in local communities. China’s presence in Africa has been largely discussed and analysed through a political economy perspective. The social impact in local communities has been documented anecdotally but has yet to be empirically studied. This study took place in Makola Market, Accra, Ghana, to investigate the emerging intergroup encounters between established Ghanaian traders and nascent Chinese traders. Photo-elicited semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore how their interrelated experiences shape their interpretative framework and inform the dialectic of contact and social identity. I draw on these interpretative frameworks to propose a new model of contact, the Tri-relational Contact Model, to capture and highlight how people’s experiences include contact relationships with not just each other, but also with their places of business and the goods of trade. The findings from this study empirically highlight the micro-level impact of China’s presence in Ghana and help re-conceptualize the contact hypothesis through a new model of contact with greater analytical utility to explicate the relational nature of contact and social identity formation. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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Filed under Africa, China, Contact hypothesis, Ghana, Identity, Marketplace, Me

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