The Culture of Consumption: Production of Space Essay

The Culture of Consumption: Production of Space Essay

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The everyday spaces of our lives express and reinforce certain understandings of
different aspects of identity such as race, class, gender, age, etc. The special construct of spaces
tell us, both discreetly and indiscreetly, what types of people and activities are welcome, and
what types are not. Spaces are habitually designed with the purpose of eliciting a certain kind
of behavior from people. By looking at the build environment as well as the everyday practices
of spaces, we can interpret them. This paper will document a “mini-ethnography” of Marshall
street in Syracuse, New York (Winders, 2011). It will look at how the built environment of
Marshall Street, as well as people’s daily practices at this site, produce a consumer space,
exploring the relationship between the built environment and the utilization of the space.
Furthermore, it will examine how these two components encourage consumerism and
discourage non-consumerism. Lastly, this paper will argue the understandings of class that are
embodies in and reinforced through this space (Winders, 2011).
Walking along Marshall Street it is clear from observing both the physical design of the
space and the activity it embodies that this is a space of consumption. There are some very
explicit indicators of the physical layout that target consumption. For instance the street
is plastered with advertisement for consumption from the lampposts to the signs on the
sidewalks. There is advertisement for the Marshall Street businesses on the street on the
sidewalk signs, advertisement for various Syracuse sites such as the local bowling alley on the
streetlight signs, as well as many advertisements for Syracuse University. This is the more
obvious ...

... middle of paper ...

...hall Street it is clear that the everyday spaces of our lives
influence us in ways that we do not consciously perceive. The physical design of a space
influences what we do in that space, and perhaps just as importantly, what we do not do. The
design of Marshall Street encourages consumerism. Seemingly insignificant design features
such as parking or benches play a part in how people “negotiate” spaces (Winders, 2011). The
physical design, as well as the activity it helps to instill, express and strengthen in us powerful
ideas of different aspects of identity, such as class. However, the physical design of a site is not
the sole producer of space. The activity of its occupants plays an equal part. The two
determinants influence each other and the product is a space.

Works Cited

Winders, Jamie. 26 October 2011. “Economic Geographies, I”. GEO 171.

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