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The Social Importance of Shopping Malls

Look at shopping malls in a new perspective. It is not anymore only a place to do your shopping. It has gained status as a social phenomenon.

From the early 1980’s a new social phenomenon came to the forefront world wide, the shopping mall. Although the concept of malls was to induce consumerism, inventors of this new concept could never in their wildest dreams visualise the social revolution it would start.

Make no mistake, although there was here and there some scepticism from the old school of thought that malls would die an early death, the concept took the world by storm. From day one it was a big hit with the sole purpose to provide everything under the sun under one roof or in one big complex. It also heralded in a new urbanisation concept where everything was taken to the consumer in his comfort zone, suburbia. The days where you have to struggle to get to the inner-city to do your shopping in the Central Business District were gone. Now, for the first time everything were actually on your door step.

The benefit was that the days of dull consumer unfriendly buildings where you had to shop, were also counted. The focus on the mall was on what is worn, eaten, drunk, read, displayed and enjoyed. It had now a dual functionality, not only to sell and make money, but also to cater for consumers’ immediate pleasure and enjoyment. Enter the social phenomenon of malls!

But the inventors of malls took it one step further, they promised parents a safe haven for their children with guarantees of a gun-, drug-, and crime free environment where especially teenagers can come and be teenagers again, enjoy a milkshake or soda, a good movie or just socialise with their peers. Enter the mall rat, new social specie. Parents were more relaxed when they know their children were at the mall. With a few bucks shoved in their hands teenagers could set off for socialising with their friends in a superficial environment. It tends to imprison those who frequent it, in a shallow and materialistic present day. And the pleasure which it is suppose to provide is just as imaginary and temporary.

But, do not make the mistake, it is not only teenagers who became addicted to the hustle and bustle of malls. Virtually people of all ages and gender became equally addicted. Suburbia prospered and malls mushroomed everywhere, the one bigger and better than the previous one. Developers bragged about their biggest yet, they were even talking about world records. And on the flip side of the coin? Especially in developing countries, inner-cities and Central Business Districts turned into slums and the poor moved in trying to survive in abandoned buildings. May be the future would show this paradox as the most distinguished gap between rich and poor.

Irrespective of how one look at malls, it is here to stay and it definitely has a very important social significance.

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  1. CyberStrike

    On October 1, 2007 at 10:42 am


    They are few malls around my area which discourages teenagers, by have limits on the amount of people allowed to congregate at one time, and having curfew for age groups.

  2. dood2020

    On August 19, 2008 at 1:08 pm


    These superbig shopping malls are totally overproduced and almost fetishized… It has become quite extreme, and has, in some cities, almost become a substitute for public spaces, such as markets, parks, etc… A world of simulation, where you can have everything (except sleep)

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