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Volume 73, issue 3
Geogr. Helv., 73, 203-213, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/gh-73-203-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Special issue: Die ungeheuerliche Raumphilosophie von Peter Sloterdijk

Geogr. Helv., 73, 203-213, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/gh-73-203-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Standard article 03 Jul 2018

Standard article | 03 Jul 2018

Atmospheres of retail and the asceticism of civilized consumption

Andrea Mubi Brighenti1 and Mattias Kärrholm2 Andrea Mubi Brighenti and Mattias Kärrholm
  • 1Department of Sociology and Social Research, University of Trento, Trento, Italy
  • 2Department of Architecture and the Built Environment, Lund University, Lund, Sweden

Abstract. During recent decades, consumption-oriented spaces of comfort and hospitality have proliferated – including, for instance, lounge shopping malls, food court plazas, spas, entertainment retail, visitor centres, and the development of ever larger pedestrian precincts. In this article we explore shopping malls as capitalist domes in Sloterdijk's sense. We observe atmospheric production, atmospheric management and atmospheric culture (which we propose to call atmoculture) inside such domes. Processes of retailization and mallification – whereby shopping malls and retail spaces absorb increasing economic and societal energies – can be regarded as correlative to the rise of an atmoculture of civilized consumption. Such atmoculture is visible for instance in stress-avoidance strategies and the production of a pleasurable experience in consumption-oriented public zones. The design of contemporary retail spaces seems to pivot around specific atmospheric strategies developed to promote and sustain civilized consumption. In this piece, we describe four different strategies of atmospheric production, identifying their possible shortcomings and failings. Finally, we advance the hypothesis that the atmospheric production of retail can also be analyzed with reference to Sloterdijk's theorization of asceticism as self-disciplination.

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During recent decades, consumption-oriented spaces of comfort and hospitality have proliferated, including, for instance, lounge shopping malls, food court plazas, spas, entertainment retail, visitor centres and the development of ever-larger pedestrian precincts. In this article we explore shopping malls as capitalist domes in Sloterdijk's sense. We observe atmospheric production, atmospheric management and atmospheric culture (which we propose to call atmoculture) inside such domes.
During recent decades, consumption-oriented spaces of comfort and hospitality have proliferated,...
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