Abstract

Globalization, commercialization, and mass communication have brought cultural and geographic uniformity to urban spaces; a phenomenon labeled as placelessness, which signifies the loss of local meaning and placeness. In particular, urban tourism spaces often proposed as placeless are shopping complexes. Shopping complexes are largely framed as placeless urban spaces; symbols of homogenized urban spaces which do not impart locality but rather offer homogenized and undifferentiated experiences for urban residents and tourists (Gottdiener, 1986; Hopkins, 1990). This paper, however, conceptualizes shopping complexes in Seoul, Korea as multi-purpose, norm-governed urban sites of conversation in which interdisciplinary discourses affecting contemporary tourism are developed and contextualized. It embraces the view that there is no secure agreement about whether shopping complexes in Seoul are symbolic of placeless or placeness and instead proposes that shopping complexes in Seoul serve to negotiate the contemporary dynamics creating placelessness and constructing placeness in urban tourism.

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Urban Tourism: Placelessness and Placeness in Shopping Complexes

Globalization, commercialization, and mass communication have brought cultural and geographic uniformity to urban spaces; a phenomenon labeled as placelessness, which signifies the loss of local meaning and placeness. In particular, urban tourism spaces often proposed as placeless are shopping complexes. Shopping complexes are largely framed as placeless urban spaces; symbols of homogenized urban spaces which do not impart locality but rather offer homogenized and undifferentiated experiences for urban residents and tourists (Gottdiener, 1986; Hopkins, 1990). This paper, however, conceptualizes shopping complexes in Seoul, Korea as multi-purpose, norm-governed urban sites of conversation in which interdisciplinary discourses affecting contemporary tourism are developed and contextualized. It embraces the view that there is no secure agreement about whether shopping complexes in Seoul are symbolic of placeless or placeness and instead proposes that shopping complexes in Seoul serve to negotiate the contemporary dynamics creating placelessness and constructing placeness in urban tourism.