The Social Context of the Shopping center

Journal of Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Split, No. 2-3, 2009

Preliminary communication

Sanja Stanić   ORCID icon ; University of Split, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences 

pages 135-151

2-3_08_Stanic PDF


The paper shows the emergence and development of the shopping center with a focus on the social aspects of this consumer form. The first fully equipped indoor shopping mall was built in the middle of the last century in the United States, as a solution for the consumer and social needs of the population of dispersed American suburbia. The socioeconomic context of the formation of the shopping center is the post-war prosperity of the American economy, the affirmation of the middle class and the migration of these structures to newly built suburban settlements. The development of shopping centers is characterized by a double expansion: the huge growth of the encompassing area and the multiplication of the functions of the centers, as well as their spreading all over the world, thus becoming a global consumer structure. Since their creation which was linked to the city, shopping centers have become its alternative, or even what has caused the death of city centers. Although they are social places, shopping centers are socially homogeneous, feminized spaces, in which relations between individuals are mediated through objects and consumer society. Therefore shopping centers are part of the post-social world. Social changes, excessive homogenization and predictability are critical reasons for the “sunset of the mall” and the upcoming post-mall era. On the basis of the approaches of W. S.
Kowinski, G. Ritzer and J. Baudrillard, the conclusion of the paper provides answers to two key aspects of the shopping center: the secret of their success and popularity and the true purpose and function in society for which they were created.


emergence; development; perspectives of the shopping center; suburbanization; global phenomenon; the city; sociality; space; enchantment; the instruments of consumer society