October 11, 2017 - mh9868a

Single Article Summary- The Design of Malls and Consumer Guilt

In his essay called, “The ‘Magic of the Mall’: An Analysis of Form, Function, and Meaning in the Contemporary Retail Built Environment,” Jon Goss argues that retail environment developers have intentionally designed shopping malls to diminish a sense of guilt that comes with spending too much money by eluding that shopping is not the primary activity at hand. That is, developers try to make shoppers believe that the main reason they are at a mall is to socialize, not to shop. Basically, he is asking the question, how do retail environment designers make shoppers feel less guilty about their purchases? To investigate this question and defend his claim, Goss references the scholarly works of researchers investigating similar ideas about retail environments. His sources mainly pertain to the various uses of malls for different contexts such as local hangout spots, psychological makeup of malls, and general history of malls since their emergence in North America in the early twentieth century. Also, Goss uses a neo positive approach to his research because he is trying to investigate how and why developers design a mall to make shoppers experience less guilt. In this approach, he uses the developers as the independent variable and the shoppers’ interpretation of malls as the dependent variable. His investigation method is effective because it allows him to at the relationship between mall developers and shoppers. Overall, for my research, Goss’s approach to investigating the intentional design of malls will help me explain why malls are such an integral part of teenage social culture in North America.



Goss, Jon. “The `Magic of the Mall’: An Analysis of Form, Function, and Meaning in the Contemporary Retail Built Environment.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 83, no. 1 (March 1993): 18.

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