The Shopping Mall: A Cultural View
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The Shopping Mall: A Cultural View
One quick search online and the definition of culture can be obtained: “The totality of
socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human
work and thought (“Culture Definition,” n.d.).” Given this basic and simple definition of culture,
it is easy to surmise that culture is indeed a very broad term that may encompass an expansive set
of spectrum. Just about anything can cover culture but it is such a distinct phenomenon that one
can hardly mistake it, may refer to it, vaguely knowing what it is and yet, being right with his
depiction. Culture is something that will be always be used to explain a variety of things in
human society and a careful study of it is a stepping stone to explain human behavior within this
current civilization. With today’s rapidly expanding world, with frequently clashing societies on
a daily basis, the importance of the study of culture has been more profound as one needs to
break-in the different societies in order to gain an insight to the human mind. The importance of
culture does not even stop there. With the all the ancient treasures our ancestors have gathered
for us to enjoy, the study of culture helps preserve such important artifacts for our future
generation to enjoy (Hunt, 2006). This paper shall discuss the culture inherent in a shopping
mall, as observed by the author.
For this project, the writer of this paper had chosen Towne Mall, located in 1704 N
Dixie Highway, Elizabethtown, KY (“Location,” n.d.). The building itself is not spectacular. It
is a red-brownish, rectangular piece of property, much similar to the normal shopping districts,
not very tall, but rather wide. Parking is easy enough to find, even on a windy (65 degrees)
Saturday at 11:00am. The mall usually has events lined up for some special occasions but not
on this day. There are several shops that posts “SALE” on their respective windows but that is
common enough for every shopping mall. The author had decided to sit by the food court, in
front of Mandarin China and Arby’s restaurant. The smell of sizzling food is rampant where
the author sat, in fact the smell can seep through one’s clothes and hair but it offered a good a
view of the children’s play area and their watching parents. The play area is for kids aged 3-10
and there were about 27 kids in there, running around and enjoying themselves.
Elizabethtown, Kentucky is a district where there are about 24,533 residents in 2009
(“General Information,” 2010). The area is predominantly white, with about 83.5% of
residents Caucasians, 11.5% black, 0.4% natives, 2.3% Asian, 4.0% Hispanic (“General
Information,” 2010). The median household income is $49,500 in 2008 (“General
Information,” 2010). These general facts about the town are prevalent with the author’s
observations within Towne Mall. Mostly, the families therein are whites. There is exactly one
Asian child and a couple of Black families (2 black boys) but the rest are Caucasians, enjoying
their Saturday morning together. Elizabethtown is not by any means a prosperous town nor is
it a town stricken by poverty. People live comfortably within their means and a leisurely stroll
within a shopping area can hardly be called a luxurious activity amongst these people. Since a
mall has a certain way of inducing people to buy things not considered a necessity, it is
obvious that even at 11am, some families had already done their shopping for the day and are
enjoying a brunch of some sort in the food court while the kids are off playing.
Acculturation is a concept in Anthropology that means, “the adoption of the behavior
patterns of the surrounding culture” (“Acculturation Definition,” n.d.). It is a way for one
culture to adapt to another. This process is especially easier for children. The author believes
that racism is discreet within the United States and it does, in fact exist. Given the laws
however, against it, people are encouraged to be tolerable about other cultures. On this day of
observation, the author took particular interest in the one Asian child within the play area. She
is about 7, with slanted eyes, olive skin and straight black hair. Her parents are watching her
from their table and are waving to her from time to time. The child is happily mingling with
the other children. She is happily playing with the Caucasians, and from the looks of it, she
can speak perfect English and she can understand the language well. The other children are
animatedly talking with her and she definitely belongs to one group of playmates. This little
scenario is a perfect example of acculturation. The little Asian girl has found a niche within
this community, despite the fact that a very few percentage of the population is like her in
looks, she has adapted well to the language and the people who do not look like her at all
accept her whole-heartedly.
Civilization is “a society in an advanced state of social development” (“Civilization
Definition,” n.d.). Over the centuries, as man has cultivated his way of life, he has learned to
live in peace with his fellow inhabitants within this planet. No longer do people fear those who
do not look like them in stature and in mannerisms, instead, they try their best to understand
them and seek a common ground. There have been phases in history when the Caucasians felt
like they were superior to others, hence they have tried to enslave the others, the Negros, most
especially, but thankfully, the world has grown civilized enough to end that malpractice.
Slavery is no longer immoral, it is also illegal and will not be tolerated within this current
society. The author of this paper is proud to report that children amongst all races are having
fun without regard for skin color. The black kids are not even in the same group of children
playing together. They do not feel that they have to flock together because of their skin color;
instead, they are happily mingling within their separate groups. This is particularly noteworthy
especially since both children are about 8-9 years of age and both are boys. They are both
mingling within their separate group of Caucasians.
As usual with every situation involving children, not long after the author of this paper
sat down, one distinct sound of a crying child was heard. A little girl, in striped dress and
orange headband was crying as loudly as she could within the play area and the other kids,
amazingly not giving her mind. Her Dad rushed to her side and she did not say anything to
him except continue to cry. Her Dad took her away to their table where she sat and continued
on her tantrum, still not telling anyone the cause of her hysterics as her Mom continued to ask
her for the cause. Finally, she spoke up and told her mother that no one wants to play with her.
For whatever reason, it appears that there will always be pariah within any group. It is
unfortunate that this pretty little girl is the victim within this little society of children and the
reason for such is not something that the author can investigate from afar. Children must have
their reason for outcasting this little girl and the author can only hope that they can resolve it
within their little ways.
Chief or leader is an important concept within any society. Just about any group of
people doing any kind of activity has a leader that tells the rest what to do. The author of this
paper had noticed a chief or a leader within the little groups of children in the play area. There
is always that one little boy or little girl that leads a group and they all do things and laugh
together. Overall, there were about five groups and there is that one leader within the group the
other children listen to. Leadership is always inevitable within the group and even as early as
this stage in the life of kids, leaders shine and do what they do best.
The author of this paper had dearly wanted to write about ethnocentrism, a concept that
is very important in the study of Anthropology. However, as amazing as it sounds, the author
observed none of it within that little community that is predominantly white. It is noteworthy
to say that children and even their parents are in accord. They appear to be living happily and
enjoying their family outing within the mall on a Saturday morning. They appear to be happy
in their lives, except that one little girl who is considered the outcast by that group of children.
As sunshiny as everything seems, it cannot be perfect and that pretty little girl seem to be the
brunt of the joke. The bigger issue here, however, is the noticeable harmony within the
community. Racism does not seem to be existent and world peace is embraced by the children.
Acculturation definition. (n.d.). Retrieved from Princeton University WordNet website,
Civilization definition. (n.d.). Retrieved from Princeton University WordNet website,
General information. (2010). Retrieved from Elizabethtown Kentucky website,
Hunt, D. (2006). Importance of studying cultures. Retrieved from Article Alley website,
Culture definition. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Free Dictionary by Farlex website,
Location. (n.d.). Retrieved from Towne Mall website, 

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