Natural and social order at Walt Disney World: the functions and contradictions of civilising nature

Christopher Wright

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Elias' theory of the civilising process is used to show how the Walt Disney World Theme Parks construct social control over visitors without calling into question the official presentation of these visitors as free, choice-making, experience seeking individuals. Particular attention is drawn to the manipulation of images of nature as either `wild' or `civilised' to code, respectively, forbidden and legitimate places for visitors. In doing so, WDW is able to maintain civilised, non-coercive, discourse with its `guests' who are, thus presented to themselves as responsible and self-regulating persons. Attention is drawn to the contradiction that this strategy creates between `authentic' and `civilised' spectacle particularly in the presentation of animals. It is noted how this creates an imperative to show only civilised animal behaviour but which, in turn, limits the means that the Disney Corporation can adopt in order to create a space that is free from the intrusion of uncivilised nature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-317
Number of pages14
JournalThe Sociological Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2006

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