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