Abstract

This paper describes exploration tactics of a city as a symbolic space by the example of an open marketplace “Shankhayka” in Irkutsk City. The author analyzes narratives of users and moderators of urban space related to the tactics of their interactions with an open market and electronic mass media and social media groups focusing on the market. An open marketplace “Shankhayka” is regarded as a site of constant construction and reconstruction of a city myth, as a metaphor for continuous variability and unpredictability of the urban space. The author considers tactical approaches to the interactions within an open “unregulated” market space, articulated by its visitors, journalists, municipal authorities and law enforcement agencies, as well as people with no actual experience of interaction. Empirical data contains two different myths of “Shankhayka”. The first is a myth of its potential threat to the well-being of the city, a spot organically hostile to and incompatible with the rest of the urban life. The second myth describes the open market as a space possessing its own will and therefore unpredictable, while not always hostile to its customers. These myths are used to legimitize two opposing tactics of interacting with the space: 1) avoidance and destruction; 2) interaction aimed at overcoming the space unpredictability and obtaining a “magic” object. The first myth and tactical approach are typical for mass media communications, especially for press releases of municipal departments; the second myth and tactic characterize social media contributions.

Keywords: open market, myth, urban space, mass media, Irkutsk, Russia