The Complexities of Urban Transformation

Tangle of Multi Colored Wire

1.  Exhibit

Freeman, Lance. There Goes the Hood : Views of Gentrification from the Ground Up. Temple University Press, 2011. ebrary, http://site.ebrary.com/lib/alltitles/docDetail.action?docID=10392350.

In Lance Freeman’s book titled There Goes the Hood : Views of Gentrification from the Ground Up, the central argument is that there is no one view of gentrification any more valid than another. The concept of gentrification, like many concepts, may be interpreted differently by different people. What I admire about this book is that it heavily relies on interviews with a plethora of people. I have been used to the concept of gentrification being a indirectly violent phenomenon, but as an interviewee states in Chapter 4 titled, “Making Sense of Gentrification,” “I think gentrification is good in certain respects in that it brings things to a neighborhood what it really never had. Like an all-black neighborhood never had as much police protection as their white counterpart. So it brings that. Plus it brings investment” (98). That’s a view not many of my previous sources are willing to explain.

To use such a source would allow me to truly map the complexity of urban development and its relationship to gentrification. No matter how false or true a claim may be, it must be supported. Although I wholeheartedly believe that “urban development” is a gilded term for gentrification, this source allows me to expand on what people may think if they view the opposite. It allows me to further my credibility because I will have a balance of opinion.

2. Argument

Huning, Sandra, and Nina Schuster. “‘Social Mixing’ or ‘Gentrification’? Contradictory Perspectives on Urban Change in the Berlin District of Neukölln.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, vol. 39, no. 4, July 2015, pp. 738–755.

In Sandra Huning’s and Nina Schuster’s ‘Social Mixing’ or ‘Gentrification’? Contradictory Perspectives on Urban Change in the Berlin District of Neukölln, the central argument suggests that terms like “social mixing” and “gentrification” not only describe the transformation of a place, but are embedded in its transformation. The argument is developed by viewing the Berlin district of Neukölln as a lense to explore this phenomenon. As Huning and Schuster state, social mixing refers to “the ideal of social mixing refers to hegemonic middle-class values of individual achievement, capacity and lifestyle and thereby stabilizes existing power relations.” They suggest that the term gentrification describes the same phenomenon, but from  a different perspective. Huning and Schuster describe gentrifications as a means to “protest against the loss of affordable housing and the displacement of poor residents.” Both views have weight to them and both are equally valid.

To use this source in conversation with my other sources is to surface complexity in the issue regarding gentrification. Development, social mixing, and gentrification are all connected, yet unique in their way of describing the same phenomenon. After reviewing this source, I plan to further the argument presented by understanding how it relates to Neukölln and applying it to the Howard Theatre. Shaw has transformed into a mixed community, which allows me greater agency to truly explore the diversity of perspectives it holds.

3. Exhibit

Ley, David, and Cory Dobson. “Are There Limits to Gentrification? The Contexts of Impeded Gentrification in Vancouver.” Urban Studies, vol. 45, no. 12, Nov. 2008, pp. 2471–2498.

In their Are There Limits to Gentrification? The Contexts of Impeded Gentrification in Vancouver, David Ley and Cory Dobson analyze the positive and negative consequences of gentrification. They acknowledge both sides to how one may approach gentrification. On one hand they acknowledge that with gentrification comes development and investment. Yet, Ley and Dobson both understand that, “Districts with impeded gentrification would have a minimal stock of older or newer residential properties with architectural character; they would have limited access to environmental amenities or desirable cultural institutions, but could well be near working industrial sites; and generally they would be lower-income and often immigrant neighbourhoods, including districts of deep poverty, some distance from existing élite areas” (2475).  Because of the intensity of such a phenomenon, they also suggest that activism is bound to occur to reverse these trends. Ley and Dobson elaborate, “Sustained neighbourhood mobilisation has led to a distinctive local moral culture that accepts the right to the city for poor people” (2494). By making such a statement, Ley’s and Dobson’s publication ultimately suggests that there will always be pushback by local residents against the forces of gentrification disguised as urban development, and that this is a trend worth exploring.

Initially, I viewed the process of gentrification as one with an endgame. The endgame was to pretend to preserve an area’s culture, but ultimately substitute it for another. A complete takeover. However, Ley and Dobson offer a convincing argument. As long as there is perceived injustice, there will be some resistance. This makes me curious as to how Shaw is reacting to “development” in the area. It makes me want to explore the ways in which Shaw has resisted, how it has resisted, and how effective was it. The publication has offered me a new platform to explore my built environment.

One Reply to “The Complexities of Urban Transformation”

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