Ethnography is a study of cultural practices by human society. For my ethnographical fieldwork exercise, I aimed to observe an environment which sold retail goods in order to better understand product placement. Forty minutes south east of Los Angeles, just right off of the 57 highway, lies Brea, California. Brea is a bustling retail center recognized for their prominent malls and plazas. Within the Shopping Center plaza is a Wal-Mart, which is the space I decided to map. I drove to the location but the Orange Country Transportation Authority offers alternative methods of travel through their numerous bus lines that go there.
Wal-Mart is a retail outlet which offers an extensive list of products (clothing, electronics, ect.) and services (i.e. tire change, eye care, and pharmacy). Their versatile options attract a broad spectrum of shoppers and was the reason why this location was chosen in hopes to observe diverse sets of social groups. I made three visits to the department on a weekday: one in the morning (9am), afternoon 12 pm, and evening (6pm) to mark any changes throughout the day.
Automatic glass doors swung open as I approached the store. I entered a cool air condition foyer, sheltered by tinted glass walls which reduced glare and provided shade from the sun’s heat. Signs and pictures herded customers to one narrow entrance into the building although there were three entrances to the foyer. Upon entry, an American flag and a California flag the size of an average car were hung were from the ceiling. A Wal-mart worker dressed in a navy blue polo, white khaki pants, and black shoes, sitting in a wheel chair greeted me along with the other customers.
My body, still equilibrating from the hot temperatures outside was instantly drawn an assortment of vibrant colored juices and beverages conveniently stacked. The drink display appeared not only to attract those sweaty and thirsty, but also served as a barrier that prevented customers from...