Paris, Paris And Modernization

1320 Words6 Pages
Consumer culture plays a key role in the economy. Today, the ways in which urban spaces are arranged facilitate the consumption of goods. One only needs to look to modern cities such as New York, London or Tokyo in order to recognise the countless forms of advertisement intended to lure the mass population into spending money on various merchandises, from novelty items to luxury products. The use of built structures to facilitate the display of retail products for the consumption of the masses is nothing new. After its renovation, Paris became a model innovative city planning and construction for a lot of modern cities that exist today. The wide boulevards and open spaces engaged the mass population and encouraged consumerism. At the height of the Second Empire, Paris was one of the leading centres of capitalist culture in Europe during the mid-nineteenth century, made possible by the city’s reconstruction. The modernisation of Paris initiated an unprecedented method of urban planning under Baron Haussmann. It is this concept of modernisation that people immediately think of in terms of Paris and modernity. This focus on Haussmannisation, however, obscures the fact that Paris was already changing before Haussmann, as was evident in the arcades that sprung up during the 1820s and 30s. Plans of renovating the city were already being thought of in order to manage problems of overcrowding, diseases, social upheavals and infrastructure collapse. However, these plans were never realised; it was the small business owners—or the petit bourgeoisie—who saw to the creation of the arcades that drove the changes made within the urban landscape of pre-Haussmann Paris. These arcades sought to cater to the consumer culture that was developing ... ... middle of paper ... ...ent form ranging from pubs, cafes, restaurants, coffee shops, swimming pools and so on; these spaces tend to be culture-specific. However, these space continue to use flânerie in order to engage consumers with the selling of goods. In the words of Benjaree, “it’s the appropriate mix of flânerie and third places that dictates the script for a successful public life.” For example, shopping centres are designed to encourage the state of idleness in terms of “hanging out.” Boutiques are present in both metropolitan and suburban areas, as well as a multitude of eateries to encourage people to “eat out.” More often than not, social contact, relaxation, leisure and entertainment all involve consumption of goods, whether it’s going to the cinemas, catching up with friends or simply taking a stroll, the individual is always a consumer when they are within the public sphere.
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