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Antti Teittinen

Service Stations as a Cultural-Aesthetic Phenomenon in Everyday Life and Consumption

The purpose of this study is to examine service stations as a postcultural phenomenon in Finnish society in the 1980s and 1990s. The service station of this era expresses themes that have appeared in the discourse of the modern and postmodern, such as consumption and cultural-aesthetic features. However, service stations do not clearly express modernity or postmodernity, but reflect the pursuit of economic benefit which produces cultural expressions that are contemporaneous, but differ from each other. The study of service stations also gives certain references of common cultural and societal situations.

The research material consists of photographs of service stations, field notes and interviews or informal talkings with representatives of oil company, dealers and customers. This material is collected in two districts in Central Finland.

The method of analyzing this material has been the so-called qualitative research. The analyzing basis is an intuition that consists of the theoretical pre-understanding and observations of surrounding reality.

Two main topics of this study are consumption and social Space. The pursuit of economic benefit produces new expressions especially at the symbolic level. In other words it means the use of historicisms, nostalgia and aestheticization of everyday life. These qualitatives are connected to social spaces, because they are used in the contemporary service station architecture in Finland and they are fragments of urban space. Thus somehow service stations are miniatures of cities. Other smaller topics of this study are customers of service stations, aestheticization, images, logos, advertising, symbolizing and the change of service stations that is based on the needs of economic rationalities.

Updated 23 November 2000 by csc. Please mail comments to the web editor at Centre for Cultural Research.