Producing nightlife in the new urban entertainment economy: corporatization, branding and market segmentation


This article explores the production of the nightlife industry within a new urban entertainment economy. We do this by drawing upon debates about the transition from Fordism to post‐Fordism, and the assumed shift away from standardized and mass towards more segmented and niche consumer markets. In contrast to some of the more self‐congratulatory accounts of varied, flexible niche urban consumption, our starting point is to pursue more neo‐Fordist interpretations which explore continuity as well as change and in particular stress growing corporate control in entertainment and night‐life economies, the increased use of branding and theming, and the emergence of segmented, sanitized and gentrified consumer markets. These processes are illustrated and empirically examined in relation to changes within the UK nightlife sector which has undergone rapid restructuring, re‐concentration and segmentation over the last 10 years. We discuss a number of implications which emerge from these developments, such as the erosion of diversity and choice, and the possibilities for alternative/independent and historic/community forms of nightlife production and spaces to coexist in such a context.