Neo-liberalistic Gentrification (Blog 2)

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To be “hipster” is the coolest trend to follow in present day. Middle- class youth strive to alter their styles to be different and nostalgic, although in the end everyone turns out looking the same. Hipsters were normal people with their own style and mindset, socially unlabeled. When social media began to notice the influence this compelling group of people had on society, they began to turn it into a marketing possibility, labeling them as “hipsters” and giving them a cliché style, which everyone tries to follow.

When reading the article written by Jeffery Zimmerman, the word hipster nearly jumped off the page.  Upon describing the changes made within Milwaukee to form it into a creative city, he stated that, “the city’s main publicity organ began to repaint the city’s imagery in ways that highlighted a range of motifs presumably commensurate with the culture of young creative” (Zimmerman, 225). In this statement, one can clearly see that the creative city is made to appeal to the modern creative class. This is quite unfair.

Even with the loss of jobs and economic failure, the creative class has a better chance of attaining a steady job, and ensuring a good future. Gentrification of cities is a big issue among a fight of social classes. Immigrants, lower social class, and self-sustaining artists and entrepreneurs do not simply choose to reside in these areas, they have no other choice. Their living places are usually cheap and manageable for their low income. Gentrification causes the property tax in areas to increase in worth because of the changes made to urbanize the changes made. Fancy coffee shops, stores, and other creative class attractions are added in the areas to increase its appeal. This neo-liberalistic gentrification disadvantages the struggling classes, as they are either forced to relocate, or deal with the rising prices of the neighbourhood they live in  (Zimmerman, 221). It is not a positive reinforcement. It is only a business move.

No one cares about the fact that the low-income families have to struggle because of these changes. Zimmerman writes about Richard Florida’s theories of the creative class and the discussion of intellect being the key determiner of the development of a city (Zimmerman, 221). Shouldn’t the educated creative class help promote social justice? I mean, it’s quite ironic if someone has a degree in law, sociology, or urban studies, yet does not follow their own area of study. Hypocritical, many would say.

One could argue, agreeing with Alan Walks, that neoliberalism and the “reconstruction of capitalism ad globalization” could promote social justice (Walks, 347). Personally, I feel it would cause more social differentiation, as the uneducated class would be working under the creative class, further distinguishing a difference in social classes.

Gentrification became popular because of the hipster longing for nostalgia, and unintentionally, it causes social injustices. Is gentrification an economic mockery?  Think about it. We are paying insane amounts of money for things that you could find in your grandparents attic. People are wearing worn out clothing that those of low income are forced to wear because they cannot afford brand names.  Gentrification promotes nostalgia, but does it actually support it. Like the phony fashionistas and mainstream praisers who wear Pink Floyd shirts while listening to Justin Bieber on their iPod (no offense to Justin Bieber), the idea of gentrification is quite ironic and hypocritical.

Walks, A. 2009. The urban in fragile, uncertain, neoliberal times: towards new
geographies  of social justice?The Canadian Geographer, 53 (3), 345-356

Zimmerman, J. 2008. From brew town to cool town: Neoliberalism and the creative city
development strategy  in Milwaukee. Cities, 25, 230-242.

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3 comments on “Neo-liberalistic Gentrification (Blog 2)

  1. mayabaumann says:

    Zimmerman definitely did seem to be talking about a phenomenon we are all familiar with… we are not safe from the hipsters here either! If I had a dime for every ironic moustache I have seen walking around campus, well, I would probably have a dollar.
    But you’re right in bringing up the point that the corporate labelled “hipster” is not simply annoying – it goes against everything that the movement started from. No longer are consumer-opposed young people walking into thrift stores, spending ten dollars, and walking out with an armload of hand-me-downs. The movement was sniffed out by clever businesses, and now chain stores such as “Urban Outfitters” are offering retro, vintage, thrift inspired clothing for the low,low price of anywhere from $40-$80 (per item!). They are making money (a lot of money) off of what was supposed to be a grassroots movement AGAINST consumerism.
    How sick is that?

    • adablogginginthejustcity says:

      I completely understand what you mean! By walking to class from Victoria to Innis I could be a very wealthy girl. I love your last point. It is very ironic that marketing took upon the “vintage” feel and is selling this movement against consumerism.

  2. istudent100 says:

    I really really enjoyed reading this. I really liked especially your analysis on how the market takes a fashion movements, mass-produces it (emptying it of any meaning or message) making it available for mass consumption. Also I really liked that you cited the whole “starbucks and other cool places to hang out” thing relating it to the “creative class” and their opinion on urban planning and redevelopment.
    That being said, I would argue that hipsterism is the latest trend. Maybe it’s just me but it seems to be scoffed at, let alone followed or imitated but again it might be that I’m mistaken.

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