Tag Archives: effects of neoliberalization

LLoyd, R. (2005). 2005. _Neo-Bohemia: Art and Commerce in the Postindustrial City_. New York and London: Routledge.

In this book-sized expansion of his Wicker Park case study, Lloyd goes a bit deeper into the qualitative analysis, particularly in his interviews, of the neo-bohemian lifestyle, and expands on his “artist as useful labor” theory.

“…neo-bohemia is not a reified natural area but rather a mode of contingent and embedded spatial practices” (245).

Constituent to this theory is the fact that neo-bohemias are antithetical to David Brooks’ (2001) “bourgeois bohemians,” or “BoBos,” whose consumer practices only track with postindustrial neoliberal capitalism practices. Instead, neo-bohemians exhibit an “elective affinity” (241) between their artistic, do-it-yourself ethos and neoliberal capitalism’s entrepreneurial impulses. The artist, then, is useful labor in this Internet-based, image-conscious economy. Just as neo-bohemia’s residents understand themselves through identification in and with their communities, and their own “subcultural capital” (243) provides them access to status and money, art has become the “MacGuffin for [contemporary] postindustrial economic activities” (244).

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Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Community Development, Cultural Economy, Minor Field, Research Fields

Lloyd, R. (2004). The neighborhood in cultural production: Material and symbolic resources in the new bohemia. _City & Community_, 3(4): 343–372.

Using Wicker Park as a case study, Lloyd asks, what benefits exist in creative neighborhoods to artists? And how “does the space of neo-bohemia operate in the organization and deployment of labor power?” (345). Neo-bohemias are to Lloyd more important in the transition into the postmodern condition than were the Murgerian (1851) bohemias of modernity.

Neo-bohemias take acute advantage of post-industrial spaces and neighborhoods, the implications of which are pronounced. The neo-bohemia is not a rejection or negation of capitalism but magnifies capital interests (as exemplified in gentrification), and the development and agglomeration of new industries, many digital media. Creative industry members collaborate and cluster, thus largely bearing the cost of their own production. Their local ecology draws together residence, work, and showroom/performance spaces, creating manifest and identifiable settings for identification by “extra-local corporate interest, who recruit talent and co-opt cultural productions from these settings at their discretion” (348).

Lloyd identifies material benefits (e.g. cheap live/work space, creative exposure, local/flexible/desirable employment) and symbolic supports (e.g. identification as artist). However, there are conflicts and contradictions. Wicker Park is not like Park and Burgess’ (1921) community ecology because it’s deeply embedded in the mode of capitalist production, and the competitive dynamics are certainly shaped by forces of global capital accumulation. Moreover, gentrification may increase the cost of living, but that contributes to the creation of the new and desirable employment opportunities. Per Irwin (1977), some have to move out: “subcultural articulations have limited ‘carrying capacities’ that can be overwhelmed by an access of participants clamoring for inclusion” (367). Of note: those most upset about gentrification were the newest arrivals to the neighborhood (Huebner, 1994), illustrating Rosaldo’s (1989) “imperialist nostalgia.”

Finally, the underlying contradiction. For Logan and Molotch (1987 [2007 in this blog]), the growth machine players have no local interests. Theirs are telegraphed, profits-only considerations of entrepreneurs and the like. Here, the entrepreneur is also a resident.

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Lloyd, R. (2002). Neo-bohemia: Art and neighborhood redevelopment in Chicago. _Journal of Urban Affairs_, 24(5): 517-532.

Richard Lloyd, PhD Sociology University of Chicago, is Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University. His areas of expertise are urban sociology, sociology of culture, social theory, sociology of art, work and occupations, social change, and political sociology.

This article is Lloyd’s first publication from his ethnographic study of Chicago’s alternative enclave, Wicker Park, from 1999-2001, from which he developed the concept of the “neo-bohemia.” Spending those two years as participant observer, attending a wide range of events, and conducting long, open-ended interviews with approximately three dozen informants, Lloyd determined that the socio-spatial reformations within neo-bohemias belie much postmodern theory regarding the organization of the city, the spectacular (Sorkin, 1992) and the decentralized (Soja, 1989).

“The city remains a place where people actually live, not just visit” (519).

Therefore, Lloyd suggests, instead of conceiving culture as a strictly consumable commodity, we should start to investigate “the new intersections of consumption and production in consumption and production in urban space” (ibid).

The three trends he observes in Wicker Park (and expands upon in his 2004 paper “The Neighborhood in Cultural Production: Material and Symbolic Resources in the New Bohemia”):

  1. the displacement of manufacturing and adaptive reuse;
  2. the intensifying commodification of culture, produced and consumed locally, as well as exported; and
  3. the increasing valorization of artists’ human capital.

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Staeheli, L.A. and Mitchell, D. (2008). _The People’s Property? Power, Politics and the Public_. New York: Routledge.

Lynn Staeheli, PhD Geography, University of Washington, is Professor in the Department of Geography at Durham University. Along with public space, she researches citizenship, political activism, and immigration. (See other entry for Mitchell’s bio.)

This book is an expanded publication of earlier journal articles detailing five case studies that each reflects various iterations of public space (broadly defined) and examines the interrelations of “public space, property, politics, power in the construction of publicity” (xxv). The case studies discuss:

  1. permit requirements for protests in Washington, D.C.: the regulation of place, time, and manner of political demonstration
  2. property law in Santa Fe Plaza: the plaza as both a civic property and set of social relationships, and the governments’ contradictory roles of landlord and sovereign
  3. the public redevelopment for private interests and subsequent delegitimizing of the homeless population in downtown — the “neoliberalization of the city” (71)
  4. community spaces (and thus controlled) in private malls in Syracuse (“community” is an unwieldy term)
  5. the public-ization of public property in NYC gardens (Fraser’s [1992] subaltern groups and their “rescue” from Giuliani by land trusts, though they themselves are under no obligation to create space for mobilization)

Following Weintraub (1995), Staeheli & Mitchell conclude the book with two chapters that ask, What is the public? and What are the ‘regimes of publicity’? They assert you must look at property relationships to comprehend public space fully, as well as understand that the public nature is constantly in flux. The “differentiations of property are productive of differentiations within people” (138); and publicity itself is “an exercise of power” (141), therefore the struggle will never be resolved.

A regime of publicity comprises the “prevailing system of power” (152), characterized by the intersection of these three dimensions:

  1. property, which they contend the contest of which is not discussed nearly enough in the literature
  2. social norms and community membership, or civitas, that’s based on the notion of a public sphere and the Lefebvrian (1996) notion that the assertion of norms and community bear with them the potential for radical democratic remaking of the city
  3. legitimation, the social norm-hewing and normalized outcome of which ensures the regime is in accord with the prevailing concepts of publicity.

In all, we must look at “actually existing [Fraser, 1992] public spaces” (154) to understand the structural composition of regimes of publicity.

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Smith, N. (1996). _The New Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the Revanchist City_. London and New York: Routledge.

Neil Smith, Geography PhD from Johns Hopkins University, is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography at the Graduate Center department of CUNY. He studied under David Harvey, so he shares a Marxian perspective of political economy, urban social theory, space, nature-culture, and history and theory of geography. He examines globalization and consequent uneven development at the local and global scales.

In The New Urban Frontier, Smith confronts the term “frontier” and demythologizes the use of it and “pioneer” in contemporary American (and global) development. He views gentrification as a decidedly bad thing, the “product of political economic shifts in local and global markets” (92), which has been vigorously undertaken by production-side, capital interests since the 1960s. These revanchist (from the French revanche, “revenge”) city interests are aggressively re-taking the city, regenerating it, cleansing it, and re-infusing it with middle-class standards.

This gentrification process takes place at the frontiers between improving and disinvested communities. It “infects working class communities, displaces poor households, and converts whole neighborhoods into bourgeois enclaves” (17). Smith proposes the rent gap as the functional tool. Producers (e.g. builders, developers, landlords, mortgage lenders, government agencies, real estate agents, etc.) use the “disparity between potential ground rent level and actual ground rent capitalized under present land use” (67) as the justification for their development.

This is an economically, not culturally, driven process of collective social action — proponents call it “urban renaissance” — manifests in distinctly uneven development patterns. These local contingencies are also global: they reflect the implications of global capital flows and are becoming standardized (with local flavorings, of course) all over the world.

Things to note:

  • governments are active agents of gentrification (recall Logan & Molotch, 2007)
  • current residents are in Catch-22 positions: they like seeing their neighborhoods improve and thus welcome investmentyet they will be promptly priced out once improvements are completed
  • gentrification flows up unnaturally, against filtering down (see Zukin, 2010)
  • “degentrification” will likely not happen

Smith believes:

“…we can expect a deepening villainization of working-class, minority, homeless, and many immigrant residents of the city, through interlocking streams of violence, drugs, and crime” (230).

Finally, an interesting point about the arts: its role in gentrification has been no accident. Per Deutsche and Ryan (1984), it “has been constructed with the aid of the entire apparatus of the establishment (as cited on 18-19). Some have remained progressive political agents, but some avant-garde artists have behaved as “brokers” (19) between the culture industry and artistic hopefuls. “Good art and good locations become fused. And good location means money” (20).

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Mitchell, D. (1995). The End of Public Space? People’s Park, Definitions of the Public, and Democracy. _Annals of The Association of American Geographers_, 85(1): 108-133.

Don Mitchell, PhD Geography, Rutgers University, is Distinguished Professor at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. His specialties comprise: cultural, urban, and historical geography, public space, landscape, labor, social theory, and Marxism. His publications are grouped thusly: on landscape and laborers; on public space, radical politics and marginalized peoples; on culture, geography, and general trouble making. He approaches these three areas of study through a broadly Marxist, and certainly radical and materialist, framework, starting from the position that scholarship and political commitment cannot be divorced.

Mitchell recounts the controversial decision for UC Berkeley leadership to partner in 1989 with the City of Berkeley to wrest the People’s Park from its marginalized users and turn control over to middle-class and student interests, who believe the conservative argument that in order for public spaces to work, they must be safe, orderly. From the 60s through 80s, Cal students became increasingly conservative, actively avoiding the space, though one official admitted the park was no more dangerous than anywhere else. It was just a matter of perception.

“Activists see places like the Park as spaces for representation. By taking place, social movements represent themselves to larger audiences” (125).

Following Lefebvre’s (1991) two visions of public space, Mitchell argues this is a battle between the City’s desired the park’s representations of space — planned, controlled, orderly — and the park’s experienced representational space — appropriated, lived-in, used for and by the homeless. Without this park and like public spaces, these and all similarly affected homeless struggle and fail to “represent themselves as a legitimate part of ‘the public'” (115). Theirs is a “double-bind” (118) in that they are at once too visible and too defenseless against the interests of late capitalism.

Bringing Fraser’s (1992) subaltern counterpublics to earth, Mitchell avers public space “constitutes an actual site, a place, a ground within and from which political activity flows” (117). In the contemporary city, meanwhile, privatization has been prioritized, evoking Sorkin’s (1992) “disneyfication” of the United States. Boyer (1992) proposes that even diversity in a public space is often artifice: “territorial segregation created through expression of social difference has increasingly been replaced by a celebration of constrained diversity” (120).

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Logan, J.R. and Molotch, H.L. (2007). The Social Construction of Cities (Ch.1); Places as Commodities (Ch.2); The City as a Growth Machine (Ch.3). In _Urban Fortunes: The Political Economy of Place_. 20th anniversary ed. Berkeley: University of California Press.

John Logan, PhD Sociology from UC Berkeley, is Professor of Sociology at Brown University. Prior to this post he was Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Public Administration at the University of Albany, SUNY; Director of the Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research; and Director of the Urban China Research Network. His current research includes the sociospatial implications of Hurricane Katrina; immigrant routes to political incorporation; immigration, ethnicity, and the family in the early 20th century; group boundaries in early 20th century New York and Chicago.

Harvey Molotch, PhD Sociology from the University of Chicago, is Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, Sociology at New York University. His areas of interest include: urban development and political economy; the sociology of architecture, design, and consumption; environmental degradation; and mechanisms of interactional inequalities.

The market, just like space, is a social construction. Logan and Molotch seek to understand the tension between “use and exchange value in cities” (2). Component to this is a move away from the neoclassical economist and the Marxian determinist perspectives, and toward an “authentic urban sociology” (49). For the former, its public choice model “trivializes” (42) sociospatial inequalities by chalking them up to matters of choice, and the latter’s missing explorations into human ecology and community studies.

“Places are not simply affected by the institutional maneuvers surrounding them. Places are those machinations” (43).

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Friends of mine are in Berlin for a couple months.

This picture is in their honor. Of course, the Temporare Kunsthalle Berlin isn’t there anymore, but that’s not the point. The point is their honor.

Also, it does jibe well with a major theme from this summer’s readings: time. Photography “resists time” (Burnett, 2007) and rather than save some things, save things to say something (Lynch, 1972).

However, in this case, Berlin’s opted to create a small replica of what had been there before the Kunstalle’s socialism-tinged, bowling-alleyed, discotequed, and allegedly asbestos-laced predecessor, Palast der Republik: the Stadtschloss-Berlin. Only, and this is very important, the new Stadtschlosse will not  be a complete replica. Only the façades will be reproductions, the interior will be contemporary. It won’t be a castle, rather a museum. And the Federal Parliament isn’t paying (the Federal Parliament does not build castles), it’s privately funded.

This ill-conceived, protracted, neoliberal creative-city project says something, to be sure, but not much is flattering.

From inside the Temporare Kunsthalle Berlin to the Fernsehturm, March 2009. Photo by Brettany Shannon.

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Crow, D. (1993). _Philosophical Streets: New Approaches to Urbanism_. Washington D.C.: Maisonneuve Press.

Dennis Crow, AICP, received his BA, MS, and PhD in Public Administration and Urban Planning all from UT, Austin. He also did post-doctoral work at Dartmouth in interpretive methods and architecture; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in history, social theory, and cultural significance of space and place in philosophy and literature, and UC Irvine in philosophy and literary criticism. At the time of publication, Crow was working at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and is currently information architect at USDA Farm Service Agency.

This book is a challenge to both architects and planners to reevaluate their positions on the relationship between planning, theory, and the contemporary humanities, as well as provoke humanities scholars to critique their home cities/regions. Space is not a place, but “the relationships among places” (17). The “political implication of philosophical streets is that engagement for use and resistance of street-level bureaucracy is more important than ever to the life of theory and the practice of social change” (21).

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Castells, M. (1996). _The Rise of the Network Society: The Information Age: Economy, Society, and Culture, Volume I_. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Written with the aim of understanding better the economic, political, and social implications of globalization, the first (and necessarily most abstract) volume of Castells’ trilogy proposes we are in a network society. Here capital and information have collapsed into one another and become the same thing, spurring a transformation from modern capitalism into informational capitalism. In contradistinction to modern capitalism, informational capitalism’s production is knowledge-based productivity, wherein the mounting interdependence of economies and companies reflects the need for international and inter-corporate collaboration in order to stay competitive in the same global market.

The rise of the informational economy “is characterized by the development of a new organizational logic which is related to the current progress of technological change, but not dependent on it” (152). Indeed, corporations did not embrace information technology to advance their standing in the market but to copewith the meteoric changes and increase overall productivity. Labor’s role in this transition to the informational society underscores the shift from the industrial economy, as well as the fact that there is no one model of the informational society. Castells hypothesizes: “as the process of globalization progresses, organizational forms evolve from multi-national entities to [increasingly decentralized] international networks” (192).

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About/By/In Out the Window

Out the Window is the first of its kind participatory learning experience for young people and the Los Angeles Metro ridership. A collaboration among four of Los Angeles’ media arts organizations – LA Freewaves, Echo Park Film Center, Public Matters, and UCLA REMAP (Center for Research in Engineering, Media, and Performance) – and Transit TV, the project engages youth and community-based artists in producing relevant and meaningful videos about their neighborhoods and lives. The project is divided into two phases: the first involves the work of students from East Los Angeles, Echo Park, and Historic Filipinotown, and the second adds videos by LA artists, activists, and storytellers. All work aims to engage and inspire the LA Metro ridership.

I hope this is a representative, if not comprehensive, report of the works achieved and things learned over the course of Out the Window’s implementation.

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About this time, two summers ago, in winter

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All photos by Colin Peeples.

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Nobody walks in LA

I wonder how long ago this happened and yet I also know it doesn’t much matter. I also don’t agree with my post title, but see tags. Photo by Colin Peeples.

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June 15, 2012 · 3:51 pm