Thursday, February 27th, from 3-4:20, Jeffrey Parker, PhD Student in Sociology, Presents: “Negotiating the space between avant-garde and ‘hip enough’: businesses and commercial gentrification in Wicker Park”
Also, food (Pizza Capri!) will be provided. We hope to see you there!
Abstract: Gentrification literature has focused mostly on either growth machines pursuing profits or individual residents pursuing taste preferences, to the exclusion of the cultural intermediaries that connect these processes, particularly businesses. More recent research has begun to address this gap in the literature, but even those who focus on commercial gentrification tell only part of the story, neglecting the attitudes and decision-making of business-owners themselves and ignoring the diversity of businesses in gentrifying neighborhoods, instead focusing on a particular type—the independent store or boutique—identified with neighborhood change. This article attempts to contribute to this growing literature by exploring attitudes of business-owners themselves, and expanding the focus beyond just boutiques and independent businesses. Specifically, it uses the West Chicago neighborhood of Wicker Park to ask the question “Under what circumstances do business-owners and –managers come to embrace or repudiate gentrification in their neighborhood?” Business-owners and –managers support gentrification when they understand it primarily as an alternative to financial instability and repudiate gentrification when they understand it primarily as a disruptor of aesthetic stability. There is a common understanding of the neighborhood’s reputational hipness across respondents, but those who support gentrification tend to value this reputational hipness instrumentally (as something that could conceivably attract people to the neighborhood to shop), while those opposed to it tend to value it intrinsically (as something that makes the neighborhood worth being in).