Atmospheres of retail and the asceticism of civilized consumption

Andrea Mubi Brighenti, Mattias Kärrholm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (SciVal)


During recent decades, consumption-oriented spaces of comfort and hospitality have proliferated - including, for instance, lounge shopping malls, food court plazas, spas, entertainment retail, visitor centres, and the development of ever larger pedestrian precincts. In this article we explore shopping malls as capitalist <q>domes</q> in Sloterdijk's sense. We observe atmospheric production, atmospheric management and atmospheric culture (which we propose to call atmoculture) inside such domes. Processes of retailization and mallification - whereby shopping malls and retail spaces absorb increasing economic and societal energies - can be regarded as correlative to the rise of an atmoculture of civilized consumption. Such atmoculture is visible for instance in stress-avoidance strategies and the production of a pleasurable experience in consumption-oriented public zones. The design of contemporary retail spaces seems to pivot around specific atmospheric strategies developed to promote and sustain civilized consumption. In this piece, we describe four different strategies of atmospheric production, identifying their possible shortcomings and failings. Finally, we advance the hypothesis that the atmospheric production of retail can also be analyzed with reference to Sloterdijk's theorization of asceticism as self-disciplination.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-213
Number of pages11
JournalGeographica Helvetica
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jul 3

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Architecture
  • Other Social Sciences
  • Human Geography


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