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Tom Sparks

“club effect” & gentrification

2 min read

taken from : Tidy Words & the End of the World: LeRoi Jones Reads a New Yorker Poem

In the creative city model, culture is used to increase value, be it symbolically through images or materialized. In this context, Zukin (1990) refers to “real cultural capital,” meaning spatially linked cultural capital, which becomes a reason for real investments (p. 38). As Bernt & Holm (2005) state, the cultural capital (of artists) becomes objectified and transfers onto certain places; this, in turn, makes access to it easier, as it can be consumed by anyone who enters this space. Ley (2003) examines gentrification processes and how the high level of cultural capital of artists increases the symbolic value of an area and leads to “followers” (other professionals with high levels of cultural, but also economic, capital) coming into a neighbourhood. He uses Bourdieu‟s notions of cultural and economic capital and finds that both of these concepts help to explain gentrification. [ . . . ]

Bourdieu (1999) also describes the “club effect” as a process that excludes according to economic, cultural, and also social capital. Select spaces acquire social and symbolic capital based upon “people and things which are different from the vast majority and have in common … the fact that they exclude everyone who does not present all the desired attributes …” (p. 129). This “club effect” shows that consequences like segregation and symbolic violence can result from a policy that “favors the construction of homogeneous groups on a spatial basis” (p. 129) This can be connected to the creative city concept, in which arts and culture function as enablers for a creative urban milieu, in turn enhancing the city economically and often resulting in gentrification. Artists or “creatives” play an important role here and can be seen as pioneers of gentrification, as they give their cultural capital to a certain district or space. As Bernt & Holm (2005) describe, gentrified spaces become more and more general, losing the specific characteristics that enabled their cultural distinctiveness.

link to Creative Cities and (Un)Sustainability: From Creative Class to Sustainable Creative Cities  by Sacha Kagan Julia Hahn