Many thanks to Scott Lukas for a riveting talk on Wednesday about the evolution of his own research in theme parks and immersive spaces and the difficulty convention criticism has had in engaging with immersive spaces. He spoke about how theme parks, particularly Disney theme parks, have often been treated on a superficial level by sociologists of culture as simply a site of consumerism, with the sociologist acting as critic and so removed from the experience.
Looking at the critiques which have arisen of theme parks Lukas writes in A_Reader_In_Themed_and_Immersive_Spaces: “The critiques that have been offered of themed and immersive spaces are varied, though for the purposes of argument, we may simplify them and consider that the foundation they all share is the notion that themed and immersive spaces are inauthentic, fabricated, faux, and simulated and that (in terms of their effects on workers, guests, and society at large) such spaces result in the negative cultural, political, and economic effects of hegemony, consumerism, hedonism, and conformity.”(p.261)
Lukas proposed study at a more emic level where the anthropologist adopts the position of the guest when viewing the theme park.
A video recording of the seminar will shortly be available. In the meantime, here is the handout.