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Environment, Space, Place

Volume 5, Issue 2, Fall 2013

Kyle Riismandel
Pages 65-89

Arcade Addicts and Mallrats: Producing and Policing Suburban Public Space in 1980s America

In the 1980s, teenagers came to dominate the last bastions of public spaces on the sprawling suburban landscape: the shopping mall and the arcade. Teenagers’ presence and the sense of their domination of those spaces from media and popular culture initiated new regimes of regulation with distinct consequences. Through tactics designed to combat the disruptive presence of teens, including use of closed-circuit video monitoring, professionalization of private security staffs, and strict municipal oversight, mall owners, concerned parents, and local political leaders created systems of insistent and pervasive policing of mall space. That surveillance not only undermined the very nature of the space as public but also nearly eliminated teens from shopping centers while facilitating their reintegration into the supposed safety of the home.

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