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Analysis of The Article ‘girls, Consumption Space and The Contradictions of Hanging Out in The City’ by Mary E. Thomas

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These days shopping malls are considered one of the major recreational spaces for teenage girls where they can spend time with friends, socialize and have relaxed spare time as well as do shopping. In this essay, I will reflect and discuss on my observations from visiting Scarborough Town Centre in light of reading the article, ‘Girls, consumption space and the contradictions of hanging out in the city’ by Mary E. Thomas (2005).

Thomas argues that shopping malls offer young people a comfortable public place to hang around with friends, meet new people as well as having fun and relaxed time. The author suggests, “This important contribution shows that malls are central aspects of young people’s lives, and often represent what the authors suggest are examples of youth’s mainstream goals. They argue that shopping malls can provide a haven for inner-city youth yearning to escape deteriorating neighborhoods that are rife with crime and poverty, and that malls present youth with spaces of safety”. During my visit to the mall, I experienced such tendency when I noticed most of the shoppers in the mall are teenagers or young people. A huge number of them are just are roaming around the shops, hanging out and having fun without the intentions of buying anything. During this summer time, at the end of the semester, students prefer to meet with friends in a comfortable public space, roaming around, and later have snacks or coffee. For this purpose, they choose shopping malls since this provides a free safe place for them to hang out unhesitatingly and have foods in the food court. This helps to reduce the stress of the exam, make them relax and prepare for the next hectic semester. These malls offer them a secure place where they can share their stories, problems or concerns about their personal life with their friends and peers without being burnt in the scorching hot sun and protected from crime and unwanted disturbing strangers.

Thomas points out that young people’s behavior in public spaces is highly influenced by city officials such as the police. The writer indicates, “Tyquasia also claims that police and business owner intervention ensures that spaces under their jurisdiction are accessible if they are being used in ways that are determined by them”. I observed the presence of security guards and CCTV camera almost in every corner of the mall who were constantly monitoring people in the mall in order to prevent potential hazard, crime or damage that could happen to the public. This place is primarily determined to be used for shopping and public meeting place and security guards and police officers are appointed to ensure that. They walk and check for potential crime or danger that could happen and also prohibit people from doing something offensive such as disturbing someone, smoking or stealing. They also don’t allow homeless or unwanted individuals in the mall. Thus, they are controlling the way this specific place should be used and they prohibit any other use of that place that isn’t intended by them.

Thomas argues that the racial identity of teenage girls is affecting their capabilities to hang out with friends in a public place without interactions with city officials. The author describes, “… tensions between youth and city officials, namely police, in turn, contribute to the production of racial meaning and identity for girls”. I didn’t notice such racial discrimination when following the activities of security guards and police officers in the mall. I observed a large number of young girls from various ethnicity and race were roaming around the shops, hanging out with friends in the seating area or food court freely. The security guards only encountered individuals who were doing something offensive or violating the laws, but did not select one solely based on the prejudice of skin color.

The author states that young girls become aware of their racial identities through their interactions and experiences at public places. Thomas argues, “The social- racial identities of these two girls (black & white) are both produced through public space and hanging out, but through very different practices and spatialities”. I surprisingly noticed this difference when I found out that most of the girl mannequins on H&M are representing white teenage girls. This discrimination can greatly influence teenage girls’ social- racial identities and influence how they treat one’s skin color. A white teenage girl may think that her skin color is normal, acceptable and it’s the norm since her skin color has been showcased in most of the mannequins in the store. While the black girl probably will learn that she is not a part of the norm, her skin color is not acceptable and would create a bad impression about her skin color in her subconscious mind. Although both girls use the same consumer public space and same process to hang out, they have a different interaction with the place because of the biased representation of skin color which can remarkably impact their racial identity.

The scholar states, “Their stories do point to their struggles to find and create space to hang out, and indeed, the girls often resisted adult control by reworking space to better suit their social needs and desires”. During my visit to the mall, I observed a great number of young people are hanging out in the seating area or food court with their friends and having a relaxed and joyful time. They are not busy in purchasing essential commodities or having snacks at the food court, rather than using the place for leisure activity or a recreational area. Most of the parents are anxious regarding their children roaming around in streets or an unsafe place where they can get injured or get involved in an unwanted activity. They want the children to keep in surveillance or adult guidance. This is where the mall plays a significant rule. Usually, in a mall, there are always some security guards, CCTV camera, and many adult shoppers. Parents feel safe regarding their children going there and teenagers are also cheerful being able to hang out freely without the risk of any danger or interaction with unwanted strangers. Thus, they modify these places making it suitable for interaction with friends and peers, escaping from their parents or adult control and fulfilling their needs and desires.

In the article, Thomas indicates, “Businesses recognize the added profit that is possible when youth collectively identify their site for hanging out; they introduce entrance fees to benefit from youth’s lack of other opportunities for gathering”. I did not observe such entrance fees being applied over teenager girls in the mall. Entering into a mall does not require any payment regardless of their age, race or gender. Anyone can just come and enter freely without any cost. Instead, modern shopping malls use various techniques in order to attract young consumers and make them buy their merchandise. This benefits businesses since most of the shops target teenagers as their customer. Shopping complexes offer many amenities besides products and encourage shoppers to roam around different shops, hang around with friends at the coffee shops or food corners and purchase whatever they like. This freedom encourages them to come more often in the mall and chose this place as their most preferable hangout place.

From the above discussion, it is evident that introduction of shopping malls in every nook and corner, especially in cities, plays a significant role in teenage girl’s life offering them a safe public place to enjoy their spare time with friends, meet new people, do shopping and have snacks there.

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Analysis of the Article ‘girls, Consumption Space and the Contradictions of Hanging Out in the City’ by Mary E. Thomas. (2019, April 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 9, 2021, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/analysis-of-the-article-girls-consumption-space-and-the-contradictions-of-hanging-out-in-the-city-by-mary-e-thomas/
“Analysis of the Article ‘girls, Consumption Space and the Contradictions of Hanging Out in the City’ by Mary E. Thomas.” GradesFixer, 26 Apr. 2019, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/analysis-of-the-article-girls-consumption-space-and-the-contradictions-of-hanging-out-in-the-city-by-mary-e-thomas/
Analysis of the Article ‘girls, Consumption Space and the Contradictions of Hanging Out in the City’ by Mary E. Thomas. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/analysis-of-the-article-girls-consumption-space-and-the-contradictions-of-hanging-out-in-the-city-by-mary-e-thomas/> [Accessed 9 Dec. 2021].
Analysis of the Article ‘girls, Consumption Space and the Contradictions of Hanging Out in the City’ by Mary E. Thomas [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Apr 26 [cited 2021 Dec 9]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/analysis-of-the-article-girls-consumption-space-and-the-contradictions-of-hanging-out-in-the-city-by-mary-e-thomas/
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