Sharon Zukin: McDonald’s of the educated classes


I adore Sharon Zukin, a Brooklyn College and CUNY sociology professor, and I really appreciate her new book „Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places“. Her contributions on gentrification are more than interesting.

So it was a great suprise when I found a recent published article in the New York Times about Sharon Zukin and her „Contrarian’s Lament in a Blitz of Gentrification“. Really interesting, but for my taste a little bit sarcastic and too pesimistic.

Zukin is complaining about the loss of authenticity and the rapid gentrification of middle-class in New York City. She urges for more regulation of rents and zoning to prevent further neighborhood stratification.

She relates to Jane Jacobs: “Jacobs’s values — the small blocks, the cobblestone streets, the sense of local identity in old neighborhoods — became the gentrifiers’ ideal,” Ms. Zukin said. “But Jacobs’s social goals, the preservation of classes, have been lost.” […] „What happens now, she said, is powerful and breathtakingly fast — a product of upper-middle-class aesthetics, and newspapers, magazines and blogs that compete to find new “destination neighborhoods.”

But in a way I have to admit that she is right: „[…] It’s just inexorable, this authenticity in the visual language of sameness,” she said. “We’ve gone from Jacobs’s vision to the McDonald’s of the educated classes.”

Read the full NYTimes article here…


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