Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Faculty of Communications, Health and Science

First Advisor

Associate Professor Rod Giblett


The idea of 'community' is an all pervasive and persuasive notion within society. But it is an elastic concept used by diverse groups and institutions to rally people to a cause or to reassure the public in times of (perceived) calamity. Of late the various forms of the media and certain elements of society have been focussing their attention on the 'breakdown of community' values citing the (perceived) rise in crime, the (supposed) fragmentation of the family and the (hypothetical) loss of respect for authority and authority figures as contributing to an ailing communal sensibility. However, as Anderson (1983) has argued in his discussion on the rise of nationalism the 'community' is always an imagined entity. This study investigates this concept of the imagined community and looks at how this notion is manifested (and sold to the public) in the 'real' sites of the contemporary shopping malls and the ever more visible master planned communities. These sites present nostalgic impulses of a community which is in harmony with itself, specifically drawing upon the concert of no idealised 'village' ethos which speaks of a more simple life enhanced by an intimate relationship to a restorative 'natural' world. The study also seeks to discoverer how communities are represented in the 'imagined' worlds of the pictorial, filmic and televisual texts. It is suggested that these sites/sights also offer versions of a lifestyle which, in essence, sells a concept of a commendable community suggested by the mall owners/operators and the enclave estate entrepreneurs. To assist in this investigation the Disneyesque concept of 'imagineering' will he remotivated and will he linked to what McCannell (1976) called 'touristic consciousness’. The former suggests that community is found in the conjoining of the perceptual and the conceptual - the real and imagined - or what Soja calls the first and second spaces. The Iatter informs how the sites/sights for community are seen and read. Soja suggest that community is found in the third spaces or what Lefebvre calls the ‘lived’ space. However, it will be argued that there is a fourth space of 'livable' community that is inherently present in the sites/sights under discussion. This fourthspace is what can be called the vagrant space because it is both present as a fleeting spatiality and absented by the conjoining of first and second spaces. It also acts as a Foucauldian heterotopic space which when present in its absence informs notions of a participatory, coherent community, something which is seen as lacking in the 'lived' community. Thus the vagrant space suggests an 'otherness' and 'difference' within the homogeneous sameness and familiarity of the community of the third space.

Included in

Sociology Commons