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Article

"It's like a museum here" The shopping mall as public space. Summary

Zhelnina A. A.

The emergence of large shopping malls and shopping and entertainment complexes in St. Petersburg, as in many other Russian cities, was a hallmark of the early 2000s. The existing literature describes shopping centers as an example of the new consumer culture in changing post-socialist societies. This article treats them as public spaces and an arena for processes of social differentiation, social exclusion, and formation of new identities. Drawing on evidence from a qualitative study conducted in St. Petersburg in 2006-2008, it concludes that shopping centers, perceived as models of a "European" and "civilized" way of life, have become a quasi-public space for the "middle class," banishing members of marginal groups and "undesirable" patterns of behavior. At the same time, even the relatively homogeneous environment of shopping centers gets segmented: their customers create in-group social classifications.