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The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Consumption and Consumer Studies by J. Michael Ryan, Daniel Thomas Cook

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Shopping Malls

LAUREN LANGMAN

Loyola University Chicago, USA

DOI: 10.1002/9781118989463.wbeccs211

The shopping mall is one of the most important social locations and symbols of contemporary consumer society and its cornucopia of goods. It is typically a “self-contained” social environment containing an assembly of stores and shops, carts and kiosks, and usually various eateries located in food courts. Shopping malls are the points of intersection between a vast globalized system where the production of highly advertised goods is distributed to individual consumers. They are sites of practices that mediate between the globalized factories and stores that sell the merchandise and individual interactions and identities that are today ever more dependent on the consumption of “branded” goods (Klein 1999).

Insofar as mall shopping is more frequent than church attendance in the United States and consumerism has taken on a religious hue, malls have often been termed “temples of consumption” (Kowinski 1985). They are special places apart from the “ordinary world,” where people celebrate the “superior power” of the globalized commodity system through rituals of consumption that affirm their identities and lifestyles as they pursue beliefs that the “goods life” offers access to the simulated heaven on earth.

THE RISE OF THE MALL

From the earliest prehistoric times, people have traded goods with each other. Ever since people lived in permanent settlements, and merchant and artisan classes ...

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