chapter  6
24 Pages

Experiencing Themed Environments and Organized Protests Against Them

ByMark Gottdiener

The difference between the ways owners and users of themed environments view the built spaces is compounded further by the polysemy of signs. People's experience of the mall becomes a selective mode of behavior motivated by resonance with those images and commodities, with which they are already familiar through mass-market conditioning by TV, advertising, magazines, and movies, much in the same way as the Disney themed environment works. All themed environments strive either to appeal to the largest possible audience or, unambiguously, to an intended market segment. Familiarity with the sign systems of a themed environment enables users to select a method for the negotiation of the space and, therefore, the satisfaction of their consumer desires. A focus on the personal, interactive level in the encounter with themed environments helps us understand the critical link between the spaces and the influence of the larger, mass culture on the individual pursuit of self-realization.