chapter  1
13 Pages

Looking at Themed Environments

ByMark Gottdiener

Las Vegas, once a mecca for alcohol, sex, and gambling, has become the theme park capital of the United States as casinos switch over to family-oriented entertainment; but even before the change, Las Vegas was the themed environment par excellence. Engineered to attract outsiders rather than to commemorate local sentiments, these themed environments indicate the active competition among different places around the country for tourist dollars. Since the 1960s a new trend of symbolic differentiation within the built environment has appeared that contrasts graphically with the earlier period. Social activities have moved beyond the symbolic work of designating ethnic, religious, or economic status to an expanding repertoire of meaningful motifs. Consumption of a themed environment refers to the experience of individuals within a themed milieu, including the assumption of a particular orientation to space, based on the personal or group interpretation of its symbolic content. The chapter also presents an overview on the key concepts discussed in this book.