Urban space and cyberspace: Urban environment in the age of media and information technology

Mikio Wakabayashi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Today, the many innovations and the spread of new media and information technologies are bringing new realities to contemporary society. In Japanese sociology, this social transformation is called johoka, or information–oriented transformation. The present study examines two aspects of today’s urban environment, concerning this social transformation. One is the phenomenon of “Disneylandization” of the urban environment and the other is the emergence of “cyberspace” or the “cybercity”. The former is the proliferation of areas and buildings filled with signs and designs that are quoted from other historical or geographical contexts, and arranged under some “theme” or “concept”, such as theme parks. The latter is the emergence of “virtual spaces” and the “virtual city” in computer networks, especially on the Internet. The former is a change in the physical urban environment and the latter is a phenomenon of the non–physical environment, inside computers. However, in spite of this contrast, these phenomena can be considered to result from the same social transformation—that is, the new relationship between space and society. The semantic emptiness, and expectations and desires for a sense of “placeness” in contemporary society are the preconditions of both phenomena. Often these elements are regarded as postmodern phenomena, yet it is of interest to explore Disneylandization and the emergence of the cybercity as the latest versions of the modern urban transformation and the modern urbanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-18
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Japanese Sociology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002 Nov
Externally publishedYes


  • Medium
  • Sociospatial transformation
  • Urban environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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