The place of malls in 1960s Sydney

Matthew Bailey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Shopping centres are intensely commercialised 'spaces'. Contradicting Victor Gruen's original vision, every aspect of the environment is geared to maximise consumption. Climate-controlled with bleak exteriors, unadorned car parks, strategically organised layouts to maximize pedestrians' exposure to shops, and strictly regulated by management, they are exemplary examples of George Ritzer's 'islands' of rationality. Despite this, they are 'places' made meaningful by everyday people engaged in both shopping and social activities. There is little historical scholarship on shopping centre development in Australia, and even less on the reception and usage of shopping centres by the general public. I address this gap examining the shopping centre space in Sydney, Australia, during the 1960s when the retail geography of the city was transformed in a wave of suburban mall development. Drawing on archival records, press reportage, industry journals and written testimonies, I investigate a range of meanings invested in the shopping centre space, by developers, major retailers, politicians, the press and ordinary shoppers, considering how we might recover a sense of place from such an instrumentally conceived environment.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDialectics of space and place across virtual and corporeal topographies
EditorsJune Jordaan, Carl Haddrell, Christine Alegria
Place of PublicationBoston, USA
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781848885103
ISBN (Print)9789004370517
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

First published in 2016 by Inter-Disciplinary Press.


  • Australia
  • Consumer culture
  • Consumerism
  • Malls
  • Public space
  • Retail, 1960s
  • Shopping centres
  • Suburbia


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