Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Crossing the Berm: The Disney Theme Park as Sacralized Space

Now this is rather amusing.

I am not surprised that Disney, and Disney's theme park, could become a subject of intense study, maybe even a Ph.D dessertation. Still, it is always a minor surprise when I do come across one of these things. What makes this even MORE an item of curiosity is that it is a Ph.D dessertation in the Dept. of [b]Religion[/b] at Florida State University.

Abstract: This dissertation proposes that the Disney theme park be approached as an agent of ritualization in the creation and experience of sacralized space: an ordered, organized space for the thoughtful, selective construction of social meaning and the mutual exercise of symbolic power, initiated in the creation of environment and experienced through ritualized activities and spatial movement, resulting in the recovery of the past and the possibility of a transformed future. This thesis will be pursued in four stages: first, an examination of the definitional parameters of sacralized space and ritualization, emphasizing the mutual construction of meaning and the interwoven power relationships inherent in the creation and experience of such a space; second, the application of these parameters and emphases to the Disney theme parks in terms of the creative process of park participants; third, the application of these parameters and emphases to the Disney theme parks in terms of the experiential process of park participants; and fourth, the resultant exercise of power and construction of meaning by park participants within sacralized space. Such an examination of Disney theme parks hopefully will provide a broad ground on which to place in dialogue the other interpretive proposals within contemporary Disney thought, a basis for the thoughtful discussion of these sites within Religious Studies, as well as a more flexible and coherent method of newly considering the complexity of the parks and their pervading influence, for good or for ill, on the global cultural stage.

You could get the ENTIRE dessertation at the link above if you wish to read it. I suppose a devotion to Disney could be construed as a form of "religion", I suppose. At least it is a "happy and magical" religion where we all make our pilgrimage to the Happiest Place on Earth. There are worse things to believe in in this day and age.

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