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Terminopolis or terminal institution? A sociological examination of the institutionalised airport terminal

Coulton, JA 2014, Terminopolis or terminal institution? A sociological examination of the institutionalised airport terminal , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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The airport terminal is becoming an increasingly ‘taken for granted’ part of many peoples’ lives. As air travel becomes less expensive, more and more individuals are choosing to travel for both business and pleasure, and the airport has become a site of increasing interest to scholars from a variety of academic disciplines. Sociologists, geographers and anthropologists have offered a range of perspectives on the spatial nature of the airport, ranging from the ‘transitional space’ described by Gottdiener (2001), to Auge’s (1995) ‘non-place’, free and empty of power and social relationships. The sociological foundation for this thesis however, stems from the work of Erving Goffman, and specifically his examination of the total institution. In an effort to capture the institutional nature of the airport terminal, the study used observation, semi-structured interviews and video and audio recordings during fieldwork at airport terminals across the globe. Specific conceptualisations of the airport as a city, shopping mall, theme park and non-place are explored through existing literature and empirical study, and are measured against the institutional backdrop of the practices and activities of the places themselves. The author concludes that airport terminal buildings are not the conceptualisations they are often cited as being. They are however sociologically significant spaces because of their design and use in the era of increased globalisation, security, control and uncertainty, where people management and control is seen as a vital function, and where the conversion of customers into compliant docile bodies is key to minimising risk and maximising profits.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Themes: Built and Human Environment
Schools: Schools > School of Humanities, Languages & Social Sciences
Funders: Non funded research
Depositing User: JA Coulton
Date Deposited: 09 Apr 2015 11:48
Last Modified: 05 Apr 2016 18:18

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