Posted by: smartyy638 | November 28, 2014

Commodity Culture: From the Great Exhibition of 1851 to the Mall of America & Beyond

After we talked about commodity culture with McClintock’s Soap and the Great Exhibition of 1851, I began to think about a contemporary version, in terms of cultural impact and function, of the Great Exhibition. While I’m unsure if we have anything that functions as a massive shopping mall, world fair, and department store all at once, the Great Exhibition was the beginning of commodity culture for the masses. In today’s capitalist society, it’s extremely difficult to understand the kind of impact it must of had on all those who participated in that first exhibition; for the first time, anyone could walk in, look, and purchase material goods. One giant space for all classes. For those of us who perhaps aren’t familiar with the history of world fairs and other massive “thing” displays (AND in honor of the horror that is Black Friday,) I present you with the evolution of commodity culture in pictures—

Great Exhibition of 1851

Centennial Exhibition, 1876. Philadelphia.

Camel Tobacco Billboard Exhibition, 1928

New York World’s Fair: The World of Tomorrow

Osaka Expo, 1970

Mall of America, opened 1992

World Expo, 2010. Shanghai.

What do you think will be the next big form of mass commodity culture? How much longer do you believe we will have expos and conventions in person? With the ever-growing popularity of Cyber Monday, my guess is online shopping (Ebay & Amazon for example among all major department stores) and virtual conventions will soon be all the rage (literally ALL)…

In case you’re interested in what the next World Expo will look like, click on the link below. It will take place in 2020 in Dubai.

Dubai World Expo


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