On April 14 2014, I have finally (successfully) defended my Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Research. The discussion was held in English at the Sociology Department of the University of Trento (Italy) with a doctoral committee chaired by Sharon Zukin with Jerome Krase and Tom Slater. My study was focused on institutions, housing and lifestyles in the Super-gentrification process of Brooklyn’s Park Slope, whereby I have held a twenty-months long affiliation as Visiting Doctoral Researcher at The City University of New York.
Here the thesis-library references, the abstract and some materials (visual also) that remind the defence-day!
2014. Manzo, L.K.C. «Give me a break! I’m from Brooklyn, we’re not fancy». Institutions, Housing and Lifestyles in Super-gentrification process. A Field and Historical research in Park Slope, New York City, The University of Trento, Unitn-eprints PhD.
In an attempt to make concrete linkages between neighborhood change and the boundary-making paradigm, this field and longitudinal study of a New York City’s neighborhood, addresses the influences of displacement, housing- abandonment and resettlement in Super-gentrification processes on 1) the types of institutions that emerged to represent different class interests; 2) the types of social groups that came to inhabit the neighborhood; 3) the pattern of that evolution over time; 4) the particular goals, values, and morals that such community organizations evolved; and 5) the social status displays carried out in cultured consumption in housing and leisure.
Employing a multi-methodological and theoretical approach, the study follows the evolution and development of neighborhood change over forty years through the analysis of social groups and their community organizations (looking at archival documents for the past and by in-depth interviews, shadowing and ethnographic observation for the present time), census data analysis, archival/documental research, and visual data.
Community organizations emerged, on the one hand, to represent different class interests – improvement, mandated, ideological - and to emphasize liberal progressive values, on the other. This emergence followed historical and geographical patterns of accelerating gentrification. The study argues that four waves of gentrification showed up across the time and tended to concentrate in four different neighborhood areas, where the incoming groups formed parallel boundary shifts.
Accordingly, I found that different waves of gentrification were associated with the emergence of different types of Gentrifiers over time, and this had to do with the changing role of post-industrial cities within the American economy, the processes of government/local institution interventions in the neighborhood housing market, the changes in class interests, morals and ideologies, and the increased aestheticized re-scriptings of neighborhood housing choices and lifestyles. Such aesthetic appreciation operated for gentrifiers as a visible marker of social status.
As residential displacement, the disappearance of “old” local stores, and their replacement of upscale shops entailed forms of social inequality that enhanced the lifestyle of new waves of gentrifiers (raising housing values and rents) while, at the same time, forced out morally (by alienation) or practically (by displacement) long-term residents, who helped produce the neighborhood socio-cultural fabric. Diversity and aesthetic appeal seemed to underlie the motives of wealthier, well-educated newcomers to move into the neighborhood. Interestingly, those have not been changing throughout the different waves of gentrifiers who came to inhabit the community in the last 40 years. However – during the process of Super-gentrification - I found that the more they populate the neighborhood, the more it becomes homogenized and less richly diverse, still quite progressive but in a different way. I would say, in a privileged progressive way.
Despite the fact that the moral order of these institutions has always been the one of community solidarity, culture, education, and growth, I observed at the same time the playing out of the most common paradox of gentrifiers. The desire of diversity and the producing of difference. This is, I believe, the central problem of gentrification: the balance between, or the combination of, pleasure and power. Balancing pleasure and power is a social, political, and moral problem. It brings together many of the concerns about gentrification, the desire for (and the loss of) diversity, and expresses the central thesis of this study.
PDF (Thesis Front Cover) – Cover Image
PDF (Thesis Abstract) – Supplemental Material
PDF (Thesis Preface) – Supplemental Material
In honor of the 50th anniversary edition of Jane Jacobs’ influential book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Fortune has republished one of Jacobs’ earlier articles in which the urban activist laid out the case against modernist planners.
“The prettiest apartment of the bunch is in a 1890 brownstone in Sunset Park. The parlor-floor 1BR features a bay window, french doors, crown molding, ceiling medallions, and decorative fireplace. It was also recently repainted. It’s asking $1,600/month.”
Welcome back to Curbed Comparisons, a column that explores what one can rent for a set dollar amount in various New York City neighborhoods.
[Curbed NY, 11/27]
Maps don’t typically convey time very well. They’re static snapshots of a moment in history. They tell you what exists, not when people go there, or how the value of a place might be tied to time – whether it’s a nightlife district or a public park most popular with early-morning joggers.
An EU-funded project is building platforms to detect patterns in how people use urban spaces: which parts of a city come alive between midnight and 3 a.m.? How about at lunch time? And what might those patterns tell us about how individual places – and whole cities – are experienced differently over the course of a day?
Read more here:
Read here my last interview in Italian Lidia Manzo: “Sogno quartieri multietnici”
This article gives a snapshot on visual sociological methods, spatial semiotics, and visual culture to study the urban scene. Moreover, it would underline that we could treat observations and photographs as we do other information, such as interviews or demographic data which are specific to areas, neighbourhoods, streets, organizational boundaries and census tracts. We should note here that our snapshots attempt to be as close as we can get to what an ordinary person might see as they traverse a space. They are not attempts at artistic representation but are intended to document visual surveys. Indeed, visual sociology and attention to vernacular landscapes in the inner city allow us to see conflict, competition and dominance at a level not usually noticed and which can easily be related to the theories and descriptions of Lefebvre and Bourdieu. Read more on this piece published on the last issue of Urbanities: «Visual Approaches to Urban Ethnography»