Mark Gottdiener explores the nature of social change as it has developed since the 1960s as reflected in the "theming" of America, from Graceland to Dollywood, from Las Vegas to Disney World, from the Mall of America to your local mall. Nowhere can modern Americans escape the profusion of recognizable symbols and signs attached to virtually every aspect of their culture constantly reminding them that they are on familiar and comforting grounds. "Just come in, friend, and buy; make yourself at home," these symbols seem to say, thus tying media culture and the seduction of consumerism to the production of ingeniously designed symbolic spaces. This is the first book to explore the origins, nature, and future of themed spaces in our information-overloaded world. Gottdiener begins with a brief historical account of the shifting importance of themes in the construction of built space. He then evaluates the economic basis for the increasing reliance on symbols in the marketing of commercial enterprises and analyzes contemporary trends in themed restaurants, malls, airports, theme parks, museums, and war memorials. Final chapters are devoted to examining such critical issues as the disappearance of public space, the relation between themes and mass media industries, and the future of symbolic spaces.
Looking at Themed Environments -- From a Themed to an Anti-Themed Environment: Natural Codes, Ancient Cities, and Modernism -- The Mirror of Production: The Realization Problem of Capital -- The Themed Culture and Themed Environments -- The Las Vegas Casino, the Theme Park, and the Further Extension of Themed Environments -- Experiencing Themed Environments -- Themes, Societal Fantasies, and Daily Life