Globalization and gentrification

to the bastard who woke me up at 2am with the bass from your car… I hate you…
Just getting into Tim Bulter’s London Calling: The Middle Classes and the Re-making of Inner London and he seems to say globalization plays a part in gentrification. I’m just in the introduction and so this theory has not been explained well. There are a couple of other things he writes that are interesting and I can’t wait to get to them in the book, like when he says that gentrification is a middle class coping mechanicism. Then there are a few things that I think the author is dead wrong on. To me the middle class has ALWAYS been kinda psycho about their stability, it is not a new thing as Bulter seems to suggest. I got some dead Victorians I can dig up to prove this point.
Bulter’s book is the first time I’ve seen anyone link up gentrification with globalization. I’m sure he’s not the first but I don’t remember seeing such connections in stateside writings on the subject.

4 thoughts on “Globalization and gentrification”

  1. I think he’s probably right in big cities and global cities in particular. Part of the demand that comes from Super Gentrification (cf. “Super-gentrification: the case of Brooklyn Heights, New York City” from Urban Studies Journal) is from people who don’t necessarily live in the community, second homes (a particular problem in Charleston, SC) and just the general demand that comes from being in demand. P.S. I’m finally adding a link to your blog…

  2. So… so what? I suppose it’s possible that some economic and/or social factors affected by globalization also play a role in gentrification, but where does that sort of stratospheric analysis leave you? Whether it’s true or false, what difference does it make to the facts-of-life down here on the ground?

  3. And that’s why I’m probably going to wait till I’m finished with the book before I touch the globalization theme again. Mainly ’cause I still don’t get it. Part of the problem is I don’t think it is written well as far as communicating and idea. Or maybe the problem is with me in that I am coming in from the outside, not being an urban studies person, an American and it being ages since I had to read hard academic bits.
    The only thing, so far I can link what’s in the book regarding globalization and gentrification is the problem with globalization weakening the working classes who used to be able to earn a decent enough wage and have enough security to keep their neighborhoods stable. To me, stable and strong working class neighborhoods are able to defend against gentrification. Movement away from manufacturing and other industries that have moved overseas have made it so that what ever new blood entering the hood won’t be the same kind of class because the jobs that the old timers identify with are gone. Well that’s how I interpreted it. I could be completely wrong.
    I need to finish the book.

  4. Mari– I think your point is correct. However, in DC we haven’t really been very industrial in the past, say, couple of decades… or more, really.

    Having studied globalization a fair bit and currently living through gentrification (actually, I guess I’m a gentrifier, technically), my take on the two is this. Both are very complicated and accurately measuring the positive and negative externalities is exceedingly difficult. However, I would argue that both of the terms “globalization” and “gentrification” tend to be used pejoratively too frequently.

    To be certain there are certainly public policy concerns with both. But the minute I hear Vincent Orange complain that globalization is displacing residents of his ward is a sad sad day for intelligent thought and discourse.

    My personal view is that globalization is speeding up the rate at which assets are being put to the most productive use. So, cheap land and labor in China is getting turned into lower cost manufacturing. You could probably trace the effects of globalization to gentrification if you are really trying–but I dont think it’s very good practice to set out to prove a hypothesis like that; rather, one should attempt to validate something like that by being unable to disprove it.

    I believe that Shaw and H Street and the rest of DC are being gentrified because the land has been previously “undervalued” and people are now moving in and improving it. This raises the value. And it’s not really that different than what happens when an organization finds a way to deploy assets more effectively in a foreign country, different state or different location. It’s capitalism and it’s what drives progress.


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