Practice of Consumption and Spaces for Goods/Retail Futures

Practice of Consumption and Spaces for Goods/Retail Futures

Francesca Murialdo
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2823-5.ch007
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The change in the significance of goods is a process that, ever since the end of the Industrial Revolution, has triggered far-reaching changes in society as the term has lost any meaning in relation to its purely functional character and increasingly come to represent symbolic and cultural contents. “Practice of Consumption and Spaces for Goods” has the aim to investigate contemporary retail spaces as complex places combining many aspects that go beyond the spatial and functional to include the physical, social, cultural, and economic.
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From Public Happiness To Private Shopping

The Declaration of Independence of United States of America in 1776 states that governments are created among people to protect their Inalienable Rights, i.e. Life, Freedom and the search for Happiness: a collective project, the pursuing of a common goal, involving everyone and keeping united a society which recognizes in the search for its happiness an inalienable right.

At the end of ‘800 (in the United States) the main features of that culture were the acquisition and the consumption as means to reach happiness; the cult of novelties; the democratization of wishes; and the value of money as a determining factor of the value of society (Leach, 1993, p.3).

After 1850, between the first and the second industrial revolution, the General Stores start to appear in big cities1. The impact of the new trade structures on the city and the appearance of this new typology, felt like an epochal revolution, capable of deeply transforming the structure of social life until today.

With the General Store, leisure has been routed towards consumption: here is where «consumers start to feel as a mass» (Benjamin, 1982).

Happiness is normally bound to relative consumption: it depends on how much our consumption is different from the one of our equals (Bruni, Pelligra, 2002, p. 113).

Goods played a critic role in the transformation of the idea and perception of happiness: as the production capacity increased, the consumption capacity proportionally grew as well and happiness shifted from a political collective project to individual gratification to be consumed just like any other product.

At the beginning of the 1980’s, Margaret Thatcher stated that «society doesn’t exist» thus definitively giving way to the idea that all political and social axioms have to be routed in the economical sphere of liberalism.

The market brought down the wall, not economics2.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Consumption: The practice of consuming goods or services.

Consumer-Centred: The organization of the commercial space that is focused on the consumer.

Consume-Centred: The organization of the commercial space that is focused on the products.

Retail: The process of selling products or service to a customer.

Space(s) for Goods: A place which integrates a multitude of spatial and functional aspects in a complex network, crossed by a system of physical, social, cultural and economic relations that determine its character and specificity.

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