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In the field of sociology, the terms Disneyfication and Disneyisation describe the commercial transformation of a society to resemble the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, based upon rapid Western-style globalization and consumerist lifestyles. The term Disneyisation appears in Christian Contradictions and the World Revolution (1991), by Andre Kehoe: "This bogus culture imposed hour after hour on the people by the media is a serious interference with free thinking and therefore free action. It is part of what Peter K. Fallon of New York University, in an admirable phrase, calls the Disneyisation of society." The term also appears in The Cultures of Cities (1996), by Sharon Zukin, and was popularized in The Disneyization of Society (2004), by Alan Bryman. The Disneyfication of urban space is explored in Tearing Down the Streets: Adventures in Urban Anarchy, by Jeff Ferrell.
The terms Disneyfication and Disneyisation are derogatory, implying the social and cultural homogenization consequent to consumerism, merchandising, and emotional labor; and broadly describe the processes of stripping a real place or event of its original character, and represent it in a sanitized format. References to anything negative are removed, and the facts are dumbed down with the intent of rendering the subject more pleasant and easily grasped. In the case of places, that means replacing the real with an idealized, tourist-friendly veneer reminiscent of the "Main Street, U.S.A." attractions at Disney theme parks; the aspects of Disneyization include:
- theming – infusing a place or object with a particular idea.
- hybrid consumption – a collection of multiple consumption opportunities in a particular location.
- merchandising – promoting goods or services with objects bearing promotional images or logos.
- performative labor – making employees not only providers of services, but also entertainers.
The French philosopher Jean Baudrillard (who writes about the nature of reality and the hyperreality) has called Disneyland the most real place in the U.S., because it is not pretending to be anything more than it actually is, a theme park. In his essay Simulations, he writes:
Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, when in fact all of Los Angeles and the America surrounding it are no longer real, but of the order of the hyper-real and of simulation.
He also criticized the hidden corporate nature of the company in his book America:
The whole Walt Disney philosophy eats out of your hand with these pretty little sentimental creatures in grey fur coats. For my own part, I believe that behind these smiling eyes there lurks a cold, ferocious beast fearfully stalking us.
- Kehoe, Andre (1991). Christian Contradictions and the World Revolution: Letters to My Son. Dublin: Glendale Publishing. p. 373.
- Alan E. Bryman. The Disneyization of Society. Sage Publications. 2004.
- Gill, Brendan. 1991. The Sky Line: Disneyitis. The New Yorker (April 29): 96-99.
- Kehoe, Andre. "Christian Contradictions and the World Revolution: Letters to my Son." Glendale Publishing, 1991.
- Zukin, Sharon. The Cultures of Cities. Blackwell Publishing. 1996
- Frank Roost: Die Disneyfizierung der Städte. Vs Verlag. 2000
- Ferrell, Jeff. "Tearing Down the Streets: Adventures in Urban Anarchy." St. Martin's Press. 2001
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