Social World Based on the Shopping Mall

Description of the social world created by people

The mall is a great place to spend your time. It could be for leisure, shopping or fashion, etc. There can be nothing simpler than a small visit to the mall. The mall in its own terms would be a good social world because of the sheer amount of people that visit the mall every day. So, I had decided to observe the CF Rideau Centre. The Rideau Centre is a four-level shopping center on Rideau street in Ottawa. It is surrounded by Rideau Street and the Rideau Canal which makes this place a great tourist attraction that justifies the 20 million annual visitors. The Rideau Center has about 180 retailers. The range of shops available there varies from electronic stores, book shops, clothing stores, fashion accessories, restaurants, footwear, pharmacies, jewelry, home furnishings, sports gear, and toy stores.

When I was observing the food court, I saw that the restaurants that are more affordable always had more crowd than the more luxurious and expensive ones. Here we can observe the social stratification that exists in society. There are many ads targeted towards people in the covers of the food containers and many colorful toys targeted towards kids. So, there is a difference even in the advertising patterns for kids and adults. This caught my attention and as I was going through the mall, I found so many more advertisements. There were more people to be found in the shops that had offers rather than the plain ones. The shops with discounts caught more attention and pulled in more customers. There were several types of people in the mall. There were parents who were struggling to manage their kids, there were people in a rush and then there were those that just wanted to have a good time and they were relaxed. There are several reasons why people come to the mall. They could be there to get some household items but the most common reason why people were there was for entertainment purposes. But compared to the other malls, there aren’t too many entertainment places in the CF Rideau Centre.

I have observed that many teens always hang out in groups. The mall population is more inclined towards youngsters. There are younger people in the mall than the seniors. This may not always be the case, but this is what I saw in my observation. There was a massive surge in the number of youngsters towards the clothing stores and fashion accessories stores. They were buzzing and were all over the place in the store running from one corner to the other looking for better and cheaper clothes.

I got lucky enough to witness a man stealing several clothes from Old Navy. He had about 5 hangers and he looked kind of suspicious. He was loitering next to the exit of the store waiting for the right time. When the opportunity popped up, he took it. He sprinted away from the store and the alarms went blaring. The store staff tried to stop him, but they were unsuccessful in their attempt. They informed the mall security, but I was unsure what happened after that. People were observing for about a minute or two and then they went on their own work. People in front of the robber never bothered to stop him. I expected people to take some steps to stop the robber but not one person flinched. I don’t blame them for not doing anything because they have no reason to get involved in another person’s trouble.

The workers in most of the stores also seemed like teens. Most of them worked there for a part-time job. A few of them seemed too unenthusiastic and not interested in what they do. They didn’t want to help people. But this was not always the case, the other half of the store staff were happy and willing to help people. There were a few other people who were just trying on new clothes and then taking selfies and returning the clothes back to the rack. This shows their addiction to social media and that craze.

Another thing that I have noticed is that there are specific timings during which the mall population booms. It usually increases in the evenings and increases exponentially during the weekends. The number of people affects the number of staff working in the stores.

The mall provides a good medium to communicate with people of common interests. For example, I witnessed two girls browsing books in the same row. They found a book that they both were interested in and started talking about that book and that topic. That was all which is required to get two strangers talking to each other. So, I believe that a mall is a great place for establishing social solidarity.

Analysis of the social world

One of the most observable sociological facts in a public place such as the mall is Herbert Spencer’s idea of evolution. This idea is derived from the well-known Darwin’s theory - a theory stating that all species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase individual organism’s ability to compete, survive, and reproduce. The availability of so many similar items provided by many different retailers induces competition. So, it brings up a situation where the fittest survives. I would say that the stores with the offers and discounts (which I talked about in detail) would be the fittest ones and are performing the best compared to the other stores.

This theory can also apply to customers who are shopping. The fittest in a shopping mall would be the customers that know their way around the mall and who are able to find the stores with the best offers and the least prices. These people are the unprecedented “Kings and Queens of the jungles”. The other shoppers just would be happy with what they get. When the kings or queens enter the shop, they are confident, and they are satisfied when they leave the shop. Whereas the fewer fit shoppers wouldn’t be satisfied with their purchases. Thus, Herbert Spencer’s idea is revealed at the shop’s doors.

Another sociological that can be related to the mall is Karl Marx’s “Conflict Theory”. According to Karl Marx, society is always a constant conflict between the capitalists and the proletariats. It is also told that the people had struggled centuries for resources. According to the critical theory, the mass culture perpetuates the capitalist domination. The situation with the targeted ads in the mall that I spoke about in my social world description confirms that. The mall was filled with ads for luxury products. Only a small percentage of the population, the rich people, can afford these items. But everyone craves for it and wants it desperately. I saw that 75% of the people came to the luxury shops and just checked out items but didn’t buy them because they wouldn’t be able to afford it. There was also another case of this where one of the customers tried on new clothes took pictures and returned the clothes back to the rack. Most of the people came to the luxury stores just for window shopping. However, there were a few people that bought items from the luxury stores too, but the others couldn’t afford such luxurious products.

One of the sociological concepts that could be found in the mall is the concept of structural functionalism. This theory sees society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote stability and solidarity. 

07 July 2022
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