Routledge | November 10, 1998 | ISBN: 0415150981 | 256 pages | PDF | 5 MB
In a devastating critique of what he terms the postmodern American city, Hannigan, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto, charts a growing trend: the spreading infrastructure of megaplex cinemas, malls, themed restaurants, casinos, music megastores and other large-scale entertainment complexes. In his skeptical view, such spaces transform the public world into insular commercialized spheres, allowing leisure and conviviality without real social interaction. Hannigan questions the alleged economic benefits these sites hold for local communities, arguing that they threaten the destruction of neighborhoods and local identities while creating a polarized metropolis catering to the overwhelming middle-class desire for predictability and security. He casts a dour eye on the overlap of "eatertainment," "edutainment" and "shopertainment" and examines the alliance of players involved in building the postmodern leisure environment?real estate developers, corporate investors, retail operators and giant entertainment companies such as Disney, Universal, Sony, Warner Bros., Rank and Ogden. Looking back on the "golden age" of popular urban entertainment (1890-1925) when vaudeville halls, baseball stadiums, nightclubs and amusement parks blossomed, Hannigan argues that the captains of leisure maintained tight social control over a public culture that fostered the illusion of a democratic crowd where city dwellers mingled freely, regardless of race, class and gender. His provocative and far-sighted report will engage urban planners and all who care about the fate of U.S. cities.