Edited by Loretta Lees and Martin Phillips
Chapter 21: Gentrification, artists and the cultural economy
This chapter examines the changing nature of the relationship between gentrification and the cultural economy in theory and practice, it also highlights a gap in debates about gentrification. Whilst the role of culture in the gentrification process has received much attention, the cultural economy has not. The gap stems from tendencies to instrumentalise culture, to reduce it to consumption, and to ignore its value(s) and the means of its production. The chapter focuses on a complex and sometimes misunderstood field, that of cultural production. The paradox that we encounter is that cultural workers and artists are often portrayed as both the causes and the victims of gentrification. An important step in the chapter’s argument is to broaden and contextualise debates about gentrification to make sense of this paradox. It argues that gentrification – drawing on its classical definition as displacement of former residential tenants – should also be further explored in relation to movements and displacements between manufacturing, office, retail and cultural sites.
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