Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
The thesis uses the adolescent activity of hanging out at shopping malls to explore the social production of space. The mall is considered as a strategically constructed place, permeated by the imperative to purchase, and marketed as a (quasi) public space. Unlike the home, school and workplace, the mall affords teenagers a measure of freedom. However, in order to use the mall, adolescents must negotiate a number of obstacles which stem from their ambivalent relationship with the setting. Malls are simultaneously welcoming (providing a safe environment and targeting teenagers as a niche market) and hostile (regarding the group presence of teenagers as a threat to safety and order). Hanging out, comprising a range of meanings and pursuits, is examined as the tactical practice of movement--as shopping, loitering, watching the crowd--which is both facilitated and constrained by the strategies of the mall. Hanging out implicates teenagers in the (re)production of the mall and its attending structures and discourses. Yet at the same time, by taking advantage of the contradictions opened up by the setting's ambivalence, teenagers temporarily transform the official place of the mall, individually and collectively producing a space of their own. Thus, the thesis examines the intersection of the commercial, controlled and potentially public setting of the mall, with the interactive, consumptive and transgressive activities of teenagers, in order to capture how social structures converge with social practices to produce social space. As such, the work transcends the specificity of teenage social activities to address the underlying problem of public space in contemporary society, and the overarching issue of the intersection of spatial forms and social practices.
Smith, Jennifer, "Hanging Out and the Mall: The Production ofan Adolescent Social Space" (1997). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 6652.
McMaster University Library