The Corner Shop

2 February 2017

Analysis and interpretation of ”The Corner Shop” In the last decades globalization has forced every country in the world to define what values and unique characteristics makes the country different and exceptional. The essay “The Corner Shop” is written by the British writer and former journalist at the centre-left liberal newspaper The Guardian Shyama Pereras in 2000, and it deals with this exact topic. She puts focus on how globalization has taken a thing considered as a unique specimen of a nation and changed it into something foreign.

The corner shop stands today as a daily reminder that we all live in a global village. Shyama Pereras starts her essay with a quote from the Sunday Times that says “if your surname is Partel, you’re seven times more likely to be a millionaire than if your name is Smith”. To understand this statement, it’s important to understand the history of the name Partel. Partel is a surname of Indian origin. Within the United Kingdom, it is the twenty-fourth most common surname nationally, and in central London it is third most common.

The Corner Shop Essay Example

When The Sunday Times uses Partel in comparison with the surname Smith, which is the most common name in the United Kingdom, she puts every Englishman up against every middle-eastern immigrant in the United Kingdom. What the Sunday Times really is saying, is that when you’re a middle-eastern immigrant you have a much bigger chance of being a millionaire than if your part of the indigenous English population. Pereras chooses to involve this Sunday Times “rich list”, to underline the actuality and legitimacy, which this topic has in today’s society.

To exemplify she gives a daily example that especially Englishmen know and can relate to: The corner shop. This compressed form of shop where you can buy the basics such as alcoholic and soft drinks, newspaper, magazines and simple groceries has since the concepts entry been considered as a core-British asset. Shyama Pereras describes the corner shop as much more than just a little shop; it is “the center of community life”, these sights are used for locals to meet and greet.

Back in time Brits used these shops as a place where they could buy their “New Zealand butter, Ceylon Tea and the Daily Herald” – all goods that are British trademarks. However did the Corner Shops undergo a drastic change up through the centuries – as the increasing globalization took its toll in the last part of 19th century, the assortment of different supplies from around the world expanded and suddenly there was a decline in demand of old traditional British articles. Here Shyama Pereras uses her own experience to further clarify this development.

Her local corner shop sold the articles that you would expect from a shop like that – however did a similar shop with an Indian owner expand the range of goods so it now also included readymade curry chicken, even to an unbeatable price. As a result of this, the traditional corner shop weren’t able to compete and had to close down. This wasn’t an exceptional case, the vast majority of the traditional British corner shops were replaced by a redesigned, more efficient, middle-eastern business model. Shyama Pereras doesn’t show a particular opinion in this essay. She simply explain how globalization has had its impact on our everyday life.

The urbanization and multicultural flow has turned the view on what is considered as a unique characteristic of a nation and what is foreign, upside down. She calls the foreigners who came and overtook the corner shop market “innovative reinventions”. Foreign people came to the shores of the United Kingdom and took something that was the very essence of being British and changed it into something better and more efficient – it may not be as tradition-bound, but the indigenous British people has accepted this in return of a much more varied, and for some, more exciting and exotic selection of goods.

Another explanation to this phenomenon could be that the Brits don’t see it as a “high status job” to be standing behind a counter all day. It may have been more socially acceptable in the old days to own a corner shop than it is today due to the economic growth of the western hemisphere and an increasing number of immigrants, who would be more than satisfied with a job in a corner shop. Shyama Pereras deals with globalization as the general theme in this essay. She tries to give an answer to how the corner shop has changed from being a symbol of nationality, to a symbol of internationality.

Pereras writes through the eyes of an indigenous Brit by saying “we didn’t like” and “none of us saw at the time” which gives a feeling of her being a part of the affected group of globalization. Shyama Pereras concludes her essay with the statement: “the concept, steeped in white British history, is now a marker of our multi-ethnic future. ” This underlines a tendency in modern society: that what is a national unique gem today – may be global mainstream tomorrow. .

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