Life in the city starts at the centre: a genealogy of the neoliberal city, through four generations of shopping spaces in Toronto

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McElligott, Christopher
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University College Cork
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This thesis traces out changes in the urban landscape of retail consumption. It begins with a general history of shifts from arcades, to department stores, and moves to more recent shopping malls and shopping streets in Toronto. There is a particular focus on the development of Toronto’s Eaton Centre. By uncovering a historical archaeology of shopping spaces in the city of Toronto, this study constructs a genealogy of the neoliberal city. This reveals traces of the influence that the exercise of power has had on the way in which the city has come to be managed. The emergence of specific interventions in urban life which made the city more hospitable to consumer culture is highlighted. The practices of thought and action that officials, reformers, and shoppers developed to deal with problematic situations is identified. With this approach, it proposes that the general principles of enclosure, sanitization and control characteristic of the arcade, have now come to organize city streets. The central argument is that the neoliberal city is dominated by consumption, and that dominant governance principles revolve around attracting forms of global capital that facilitate and bolster ‘globalised consumer culture.’ The thesis also advances understanding of the confluences between the emergence and consolidation of consumer culture, shifts in the forms of retail spaces made available to consumers, and more general changes in urban capitalist urban social and spatial form. Particular focus is given to connecting elements of Toronto’s urbanization through the long 20th Century to broader movements and utopian ideals in urban planning.
Toronto , Toronto Eaton Centre , POPS , Consumption , Shopping centres , Neoliberalism , Consumerism , Urban planning , Urbanism , Public space , Public street , Privately owned public spaces , Revitalisation , Redevelopment , Shopping
McElligott, C. 2017. Life in the city starts at the centre: a genealogy of the neoliberal city, through four generations of shopping spaces in Toronto. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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