The socionature of urban informalities in ‘De Haagse Markt’ and ‘The Markthal-Rotterdam’.

In my journey about learning socio political ecology, I choose research about social interactions that coexist in markets and its relationship with nature. The dynamic and energy is possible to feel in a market is contagious. This dynamic and social behaviour and how is developed is not new, or at least is not a hipster trendy activity as it is known now for some. The market social behaviour has been part of history societies since the ‘’xx’’ century and it is known that the big markets of the world have been always located where the water was and close to the nature nearby. For this Liang Young explains how all this intercultural relationships that occurs are related with natural behaviours. For example how the markets are design allows the social interactions. In the markets you can feel the sense of sight, hearing, smell touch and this relates in the behaviour of humans, their need of relationships, their need to be social and their need to shape with nature (Liang Yingu 2016).

For this market research, we will understand some of the relations that exist inside Rotterdam and Den Haag markets in the Netherlands.

De Haagse Markt

The market it is known since the XVI century, as a place where you can find unique and imported goods. Den Haag market, is definitely a multicultural venue. You can find people from all nationalities, making a social interaction and shaping different natures. The diversity of informalities are certainly attractive to everyone. As an international place, it has been transformed and is inviting anyone to try different tastes shapes and flavours.

Source: Alamy

From the main entrance smaller vendors transform nature so it can be attractive and tasty to anyone. I couldn’t resist myself and I bought a delicious corn, for only €1.

With my corn in hand, I proceed to discover what the market had to offer. To be honest, I was kind of intrigued by the dynamics that I found inside. The first impression was the feeling of a multicultural environment. In the process of observing the environment of the market itself, something caught my attention, there were no Dutch shoppers/visitors.

This perception stayed in my mind while I was continuing my journey. I decided to stop in one of this famous Chesses stands (something that would never can be missed in the Netherlands). After a nice conversation with a young lady, I began to understand some social interactions. This young lady was originally from Aruba (Constituent contry of the Netherlands).  I ask her about her clients. She told me her main clients are from Aruba and Curacao. But not many Dutch clients. This triggered me more.

I continued in search of the answer of my question, and I found the fish spot, (another essential food that is sold in any Dutch market). Here I was able to have a talk with a nice Morocco guy. Intrigued by the now notoriously absent of Dutch people, I asked him why?

Source: The author.

He said everything has been changing for the last 15 years that he has been working there. ‘’Dutch people no longer visit the market as much as they used to do”. Now they have moved away from Den Haag. “Is too much noise now, many movement, too much people working, Dutch do not like this, that’s why they moved out” Here I found my answer of how nature is shaping society. All this noisy and crowd nature that now days is in Den Haag centre, is shaping the society that we could found in the so famous and unique Den Haag Market. But also I understood that this society also shape the way nature is presented.


Different nature displace in Den Haag Market.

Markthal Rotterdam

In this adventurous research trying to understand the simplicity and complexity of Political Ecology, I date with myself on a Saturday and travelled to Rotterdam Market. Not wondering why now days, the markets have become a fashion trendy.

 ‘’Rotterdam, in the development process of high density urban state, started to find the original nature of city characteristics from downtown area” In contrast to the control, without any involvement in planning and design, the natural growth space fun is the result of chance, strict control will spaces obliterated the ego and personality, and completely free of growth also has its drawbacks. The display way of Modern community food stores and supermarkets provide a reference for the new style, they through the object shape, color, size, texture, price and biological characteristics are classified and placed” (Liang Yingu, 2016).

Source: The author.

Just to give a little perspective about what Rotterdam Market is like. The market is not behind of what characterize the architecture of the City of Rotterdam. The infrastructure of the market itself is an art. The artists Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam complete the impressive mural you can see inside the market infrastructure. The mural is called ‘’Horn of plenty”. And here we can go back, to what I was explaining in the introduction, the markets try to show a strong spatial richness and flavour of life (Liang Yingu, 2016).

One of my first shopping’s was a tropical and trendy fruit. (I usually don’t buy tropical fruits to lower my carbon emissions). I bought this tasty pineapple, with a trendy label. ‘’Super Sweet” ‘’Sweet Golden’’ For my surprise it really was. (No one knows how many chemicals were there so I was able to taste the gold sweetness of Costa Rica).


All the products in this market where sell like trendy. I found the same characteristics for the spots for Cheese and Fish. (Take a look of the photos).

Different nature displace in Rotterdam Market

Personally I have always liked to visit the markets. I remember that I used to go with my grandma when I was 4 years old to the unpredictably market tour. But not until I began to write this blog that I started to ask myself, why I used to enjoyed the experience that much.  Looking back and being real, the place was kind of chaotic, dirty, noisy, people screaming to each other and not at all any sanitation practices involved. No matter that, I simply love it. But why? Is this nature social interaction in the markets allows different kind of scenes to be felt?

Markets allows many interactions, sometimes without the normal stereotypes that other places of the urban society does not allow. And it allow it because market are exactly this. A space where you are allow to be chaotic, disorganized, artistic. Everyone enjoy the daily interaction. Thinking about the science of the nature that is behind, it is now days known that this interactions creates a relaxation in the social behaviour or to say it other words society is using the nature to create beneficial relationships between each other. (Liang Yingyu, 2016).  What I found? The same products? I can even say the same prices! But the envelope of the products and how they were presented was different. Were completely 2 different ways of informalities. Society shaping the way nature is presenting.

In the other hand, nature also shapes the kind of society. For example In Den Haag market it was difficult to find Dutch people. You can find more people from Aruba, Curacao, Morocco. The way how the urban nature has developed in the big city is changing the society. But what happened In Rotterdam market, this trendy nature that was created, shaped the multicultural society that visit the market. You can find both Dutch and international people, interacting in this space of nature created for this society. It was impossible to not note, how the nature was packed and presented differently in the Market Hall, fancy and trendy, again the nature was transformed to be attractive to the public.  Even if the nature was the same, the way it was presented was more fancy and trendy, and the nature was transformed for the public.

Analyzing Markets through its nature and the urban informalities is then possible to understand the new social interactions.


Yingyu, L. (2016). Research on the Construction of Urban Market space order. (Master), Politecnico di MIlano, Italy.

About the author: Lucia Garcia, is a social biologist, currentrly studing Water Management and Governance with specialization of conflict resolution in IHE-Delft the Netherlands.


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