Tag Archives: gentrification

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.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

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

Zukin, S. (2011). Reconstructing the authenticity of place. _Theory and Society_, 40(2): 161.

In this article, Zukin asserts the importance of looking at both economic motives and cultural strategies of urban and rural placemaking. There are “three necessary and sufficient factors that create both a structural and institutional base for modern settlements to develop distinctive, contrasting cultures” (161).

  1. People must be free to choose where they live.
  2. A local history, appealing to outsiders, must exist “through the social construction of either a material or a symbolic landscape” (162).
  3. Local entrepreneurs must market these attractive elements while suppressing others.

Under these conditions it is possible for residents to “engage in the reflexive creation of a spatial habitus” (162). Place branding is a powerful rhetoric that becomes a growth strategy, articulating zoning and other laws that ban traditional income engines in favor of making the areas more attractive to newcomers. Sometimes these makeovers are unsuccessful, if attempted, because if a local economy is not already diverse it’s less likely locals will band together around a new growth scenario.

Rural gentrification in such places as Vermont and Utah read a lot like city-district gentrification narratives. Newcomer entrepreneurs help develop a new place identity through creation of new art spaces, boutiques, restaurants, etc. In some cases a new place identity highlights historical elements “and present itself as respectful of the community’s authenticity — social and cultural networks of new producers and consumers create, nurture, and often capitalize on a completely new sense of place” (164). And so Williamsburg’s grittiness translates into high rents.

Leave a comment

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

Zukin, S. (1989). _Loft Living: Culture and Capital in Urban Change_. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Sharon Zukin, PhD Political Science from Columbia University, is Professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College and at the CUNY Graduate Center. She is an expert in consumer society and consumer culture (particularly shopping and urban change), gentrification, arts and economic development, and ethnic diversity.

In tracking the emergence of loft living in 1980s lower Manhattan, Zukin tells a larger story about gentrification and the diminution of manufacturing in the postindustrial city, asserting that we are “at a historic turning point in urban political economy” (176). She opens by arguing that loft living does not, in fact, encourage mixed use, nor is the city benefited by industry’s exodus or robust developer subsidies. The loft terrain, instead, is the site of the annihilation of manufacturing and generation of social group conflict.

Loft conversion happened because of the confluence of three things:

  1. The “loft lifestyle,” a mélange of the democratization of art (thus, increasing its commercialization and the associated lifestyle), the domestication of the “industrial aesthetic,” overall changes in perceptions towards artists, and the personal and state patronage provided them.
  2. An eager investment climate, wherein the smaller developers were pulled toward the attractive profit margins and larger developers pushed from the ballooning costs of their traditional endeavors.
  3. State intervention, each technique testament to the state’s role of speculator in response to deindustrialization and revalorization, as well as institutionalization of codification, socialization of consumption, and socialization of failure.

The Artistic Mode of Production (AMP): (1) assists in the evolution of productive urban space to nonproductive, (2) changes the local labor market, (3) decreases people’s expectations, (4) obscures current and pressing concerns by focusing on “picturesque” (180) historical aspects, and (5) makes a conversion back to industrial use nigh-on impossible. Thus, the three issues to consider in evaluating the AMP’s impact on the urban political economy: the base, the costs, and the contradictions.

Zukin draws four conclusions: (1) investors, not consumers, are the agents of change; (2) agents at all levels of investment are involved (“investment hierarchies” [191]); (3) negotiations regarding the urban terrain bespeak groups’ curious concepts of property rights; and (4) arts patrons and middle class historic preservationists play critical mediating roles.

Leave a comment

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

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).

Leave a comment

Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Community Development, Major Field, Research Fields