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”):
- the displacement of manufacturing and adaptive reuse;
- the intensifying commodification of culture, produced and consumed locally, as well as exported; and
- the increasing valorization of artists’ human capital.