The Global Gentrification of Nothing

By Jonathan Jackson.

Published by Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Since 1990 gentrification has entered a new era, one which is more corporate and state-driven, transforming more and more urban spaces from something to nothing. In this phase gentrification is no longer confined to a few cities in North America and Western Europe but has become a global process, spreading to cities such as Singapore, Cape Town and Moscow.
Thus, I hope to extend George Ritzer's globalization of nothing thesis to urban development. I will look at the five characteristics of nothing (generic, lack of local ties, timelessness, dehumanization and disenchantment) and discuss examples of gentrification perpetuating these forms. For example, many new high-rise developments have sprung up along the Thames River in London. Many of these buildings and the people inhabiting them lack local ties to pre-existing neighborhoods nor do they try to establish any. Instead, real estate agents promoting such apartment complexes emphasize to potential customers (members of the elite transnational capitalist class) the global, metropolitan lifestyle one can have with close proximity to the city-center and other non-places that are increasingly full of non-people, things and services.
I will also look at the different types of nothing (i.e. non-places, non-things, non-persons, non-services) and how they have proliferated in gentrified neighborhoods and cities. These forms of nothing, I argue, are tools used by the transnational capitalist class to tailor urban spaces to fit their own interests. Additionally, I will deal with the interrelationships between grobalization, glocalization and something-nothing within the context of urban gentrification.

Keywords: Gentrification, Something/Nothing, Globalization

Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp.25-36. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 701.868KB).

Jonathan Jackson

Graduate Student/Teaching Assistant, Sociology, University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, Maryland, USA

I received my Bachelors in sociology and seligion from Emory University in 2009. During my tenure at Emory I became interested in globalization and the many processes and flows it has created while working under Frank Lechner. Upon graduation I moved to Germany where I was the recipient of a Fulbright teaching fellowship. After a Fulbright year teaching English at a vocational school in Germany I moved to Washington DC and am now a PhD student at the University of Maryland, where my interests in globalization have focused on gentrification. Additionally, I am hoping to specialize in demography and stratification, which I believe offer the proper skill set to study the many changes gentrification brings to the urban landscape.