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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.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Religion in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
John Kelsay, Professor Directing Dissertation; Robert Neuman, Outside Committee Member; Kathleen Erndl, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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