China’s malls offer new arenas of socialisation
Shopping malls multiply across Chinese cities, and going there became a self-justified activity. They increasingly play a dominant role in “the cultural and social fabric of urban society”, China Daily reports. Newly implemented programs in malls today far exceed the realm of simple shopping, focusing instead on the cultivation of an entire “lifestyle”. Modern malls may include shopping and entertainment, as well as a diverse array of other services: childcare, hotel accommodations and tourism, art and culture, educational centers, etc. To attract and maintain patrons, shopping malls are experimenting with new ways to entice and win over customers. In Beijing, for example, people can visit the newly built Parkview Green Fangcaodi to see the latest works of young artists or the largest indoor bridge in Asia.
However, this new phenomenon may also carry more insidious implications: an increasing shortage of more “autonomous” non-commercial public spaces in the city. Without such independent spaces, city dwellers are increasingly confined to meet and convene in commercial spaces, which may then become the only recourse for spaces of recreation and relaxation.