shopping centers, consumer behavior, cities, Chile


Scholars understand shopping malls as central commercial and social settings. Some argue that malls’ designs attract and seduce consumers, while others contend that mall authorities exclude vulnerable groups and prohibit free expression. Ethnographic studies, by contrast, document how consumers interpret and shape malls as social settings. Drawing on qualitative research in two Santiago, Chile, malls, we contend that Santiago’s patterns of socioeconomic segregation and ample public transport facilitate cross-class interactions in malls. These characteristics encourage visitors to transpose practices and meanings from other public settings to the mall, drawing on rules for public interaction. Residents adapt mall infrastructures for noncommercial uses and engage in informal and formal resistance, reflecting conflicts between abstract and social space. The analysis shows that distinctive urbanization patterns significantly shape how consumers access and use malls as social spaces.


Original Citation: Stillerman, Joel, and Rodrigo Salcedo. "Transposing the Urban to the Mall: Routes, Relationships, and Resistance in Two Santiago, Chile, Shopping Centers." Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 41, no. 3 (2012): 309-336.