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The Theming of America: American Dreams, Media Fantasies, and Themed Environments

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This second edition of Theming of America is an analysis of American society in which the author, Mark Gottdiener explores the nature of social change since the 1960s as reflected in the "theming" of America--from Graceland to Dollywood, from Las Vegas to Disneyworld, from the Mall of America to your local mall. Nowhere can modern Americans escape the profusion of recogniz This second edition of Theming of America is an analysis of American society in which the author, Mark Gottdiener explores the nature of social change since the 1960s as reflected in the "theming" of America--from Graceland to Dollywood, from Las Vegas to Disneyworld, from the Mall of America to your local mall. Nowhere can modern Americans escape the profusion of recognizable symbols and signs attached to virtually all aspects of our culture, constantly reminding us that we are on familiar and comforting ground."Just come in, friend, and buy; make yourself at home," these symbols seem to say, thus tying our media culture and the seductions of consumerism to the production of ingeniously designed symbolic spaces. Mark Gottdiener's book is the first to explore the origins, nature, and future of themed environments in our information-overloaded world. This second edition has been revised and updated.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.


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This second edition of Theming of America is an analysis of American society in which the author, Mark Gottdiener explores the nature of social change since the 1960s as reflected in the "theming" of America--from Graceland to Dollywood, from Las Vegas to Disneyworld, from the Mall of America to your local mall. Nowhere can modern Americans escape the profusion of recogniz This second edition of Theming of America is an analysis of American society in which the author, Mark Gottdiener explores the nature of social change since the 1960s as reflected in the "theming" of America--from Graceland to Dollywood, from Las Vegas to Disneyworld, from the Mall of America to your local mall. Nowhere can modern Americans escape the profusion of recognizable symbols and signs attached to virtually all aspects of our culture, constantly reminding us that we are on familiar and comforting ground."Just come in, friend, and buy; make yourself at home," these symbols seem to say, thus tying our media culture and the seductions of consumerism to the production of ingeniously designed symbolic spaces. Mark Gottdiener's book is the first to explore the origins, nature, and future of themed environments in our information-overloaded world. This second edition has been revised and updated.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.

38 review for The Theming of America: American Dreams, Media Fantasies, and Themed Environments

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ivan Znaiko

    This is the first time when I review something that I am actually far away from. I’ve just got acknowledged with urban studies and to be honest – this book is a bad start for it. Well, considering me not being American or even being to America, the most processes or places that author described in his book are strange to me and perhaps I will never even have an opportunity to visit the mentioned places. Anyway, the concept of theming is something that is not only present in America. The concept This is the first time when I review something that I am actually far away from. I’ve just got acknowledged with urban studies and to be honest – this book is a bad start for it. Well, considering me not being American or even being to America, the most processes or places that author described in his book are strange to me and perhaps I will never even have an opportunity to visit the mentioned places. Anyway, the concept of theming is something that is not only present in America. The concept itself is a very interesting matter. With the author’s introduction about franchises and merchandising and society’s different reaction to that I was very curious about how author sees it. In my opinion, author fails in providing a full picture of critical theory. The chapter 6 is very blank and somehow I felt like without this chapter the book would be the same, since the chapter 6 called Experiencing Themed Environments and Organized Protests Against Them does not include any information about big protests, except for French ones. I gave this book 2/5 not because I didn’t like the book. The contents of the book are okay, but I just didn’t like the author’s style of writing. To be honest, I hated it. I prefer to read everything that is connected to the matter in one piece at the same place, while this book is filled with sentences like this will be closely reviewed in chapter 5, this will be described in chapter 7. Why would you mention something that you’re going to mention closely in one hundred pages? Beside that, I do not regret reading this book. It was a good book to explore the topic, but to be honest, I doubt that I’ll ever return to the book. The strong sides of the book would definitely be author’s theoretical knowledge of Marx, Weber and other sociologists. For example, I like how author connects their masterpieces to show the difference between American society before the Great Depression and after. Also, the review of the presenting the unpresentable, meaning the Holocaust Museums or the monument to the Vietnam War is something that is quite mind-blowing. For example, I think that now I do realize, why Auschwitz is the most popular destination for tourists, and not Majdanek or Treblinka, even though all of them are situated in Poland – it’s the symbol of suffering that Auschwitz represents, a huge concentration camp that summarizes all concentration camps that were situated in Poland during II World War. The weaker sides of this book are the ones mentioned above: poor structure and author’s style of writing. I think that some personal author’s experiences during his trips are also something that should have been left behind this book, since it doesn’t actually help to prove author’s thesis in the book (even though I laughed a lot about author’s experience in a bakery in Brazil). This book is a bad introduction to urban studies for a person outside America. I was expecting something else, but I can’t claim this book to be bad only because I am not an American resident. This book is still good, and Gottdiener’s last sentence that themic environments also cannot replace the real rain forests, tropical paradises, and important local cultures, although they may well contribute to their destruction is something that I am personally thinking about. I think the destruction is real and the simple example would be Polish Zabkas which took the ability for local shops to develop themselves. The Zabka as a franchise or themic environment is so strong that local owners are seeking to franchise their places with it in order to gain wealth, otherwise they would not stand a chance. In my opinion, this corporate spreading of shops like these is something that destroys local culture and its values, but may be this consumption capitalism will eventually transform into something better, and money would not be as valuable as it have been for the last 70 years.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Chrissa

    In general, I enjoyed this. It's a good overview of how simplification and replication within the popular culture of America can mask or obscure genuine community and/or genuine challenges (Disneyland becoming Main Street becoming Disneyland) and should help me to pay closer attention to built spaces around me. I would have like a longer treatment of the topic regarding how ideas are taken up, simplified, and then sold back in terms of built spaces (I see examples of this in non-pop culture ways In general, I enjoyed this. It's a good overview of how simplification and replication within the popular culture of America can mask or obscure genuine community and/or genuine challenges (Disneyland becoming Main Street becoming Disneyland) and should help me to pay closer attention to built spaces around me. I would have like a longer treatment of the topic regarding how ideas are taken up, simplified, and then sold back in terms of built spaces (I see examples of this in non-pop culture ways in terms of strip centers endlessly stamping stars on the facade because it's a state symbol) and how theming and branding are differentiated.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

  4. 4 out of 5

    Iris

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rich

  6. 5 out of 5

    Annmarie

  7. 5 out of 5

    John

  8. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jesse Winslow

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

  11. 5 out of 5

    Louis Pignatelli

  12. 5 out of 5

    Daria

  13. 5 out of 5

    Liv

  14. 5 out of 5

    Micah

  15. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  16. 4 out of 5

    J.B. Johnson

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rachelreads

  18. 5 out of 5

    Joey

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jossie

  20. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ken

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tiny Pants

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tom

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  25. 5 out of 5

    BookDB

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jamiekyle14yahoo.com

  27. 5 out of 5

    Robin

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jon

  29. 5 out of 5

    D.M.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ian

  31. 5 out of 5

    Amara

  32. 5 out of 5

    Gregory

  33. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin

  34. 5 out of 5

    Natalia

  35. 4 out of 5

    Sus

  36. 5 out of 5

    Martin Lund

  37. 4 out of 5

    Mary Wetherbee

  38. 4 out of 5

    Nik Jones

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