Research question: How have gentrification and its effects manifested themselves in New York City and San Francisco? And how have certain activist efforts and movements within each city attempted to counter such a nuanced, controversial and dual phenomenon(duality)? Are there ways in which each city’s anti-gentrification activist efforts differ in nature and tactics, and are there ways in which each city’s different activist movements perhaps converge and are very similar? Also, how has the nature of anti-gentrification activism/efforts in these cities evolved over time?
Gentrification is an issue of severe import due to the particular nature and acute duality of the phenomenon. There are positive consequences of gentrification, such as its aesthetic improvement/polishing of cities, which have the effects of deluding the untrained eye into predominantly perceiving the narrowly obtained benefits of the phenomenon. However, the process of gentrification causes a myriad of acute negative consequences throughout the city and simultaneously obfuscates such negative consequences through the glistening aesthetics and promises of the new amenities, businesses and improvements, which it brought. (this makes it an issue, which is somewhat difficult to concretely discern, perceive, comprehend and counter) Gentrifications benefits are narrowly allocated, yet its costs amongst certain demographics and groups of residents can be severe and diffuse. In San Francisco and New York, a number of anti-gentrification activist movements and efforts have emerged in an attempt to fight such costs in their neighborhoods.(numerous activist groups-many that are relatively small and diverse-different with each neighborhood so they don’t always form a robust universal movement)
- Introduce the concepts and definition of gentrification
- Present and introduce a number of scholarly sources and opinions, which discuss gentrification
- Discuss the immediate and long-term effects of gentrification in New York and San Francisco
- By doing so, I will demonstrate that gentrification, as supported by data and trends, does clearly result in a myriad of threatening consequences that must be addressed
- Emphasize that gentrification is an extremely disconcerting reality for many of the local residents of a city and for the character/purpose of the city in general
- I will interweave such data and concrete facts with some of the scholarly arguments and opinions on gentrification I referred to in the paragraph prior
- Using certain data and stories to counter some of the scholarly pro-gentrification arguments I will present earlier in the paper. Such data (rent costs, homogenization, displacement, loss of jobs) will underscore how gentrifications costs often outweigh its narrow benefits and thus support some of the anti-gentrification scholarly arguments I refer to earlier on.
- I will examine anti-gentrification activist efforts and movements in New York and San Francisco
- Looking at some of the most prominent activist movements and battles against urban development in the mid to late 20th centuries as well as the current movements in each city
- I will explore how such anti-gentrification activism has potentially evolved throughout time by examining the key anti-gentrification battles and movements throughout these cities histories and comparing them to those of modern day
- I will explore the similarities of San Francisco and New York activist movements and perhaps some of the differences
- Why is there not really a universal anti-gentrification movement at the forefront of national dialogue? Movements are very localized and dispersed-are there some discernable differences in the demands of San Francisco activist groups vs. New York activist groups?
During the peer review sessions on my written research proposal, I received constructive feedback that helped me determine the areas and ways in which I could improve and strengthen my overall proposal. One common suggestion I received throughout the various peer review sessions was to attempt to be more concise and to more quickly introduce the main idea and topic of my research(gentrification). Moreover, such feedback suggested that I get to the main point and topic of gentrification more directly so that the reader immediately know the subject of my research. These suggestions helped me revise my paper because they made me realize that part of the reason why I wasn’t quickly, clearly and directly introducing my research topic was because I hadn’t specifically honed in on what aspects of gentrification I wanted to examine and what my thesis was. As a result, in my final research proposal, in the introduction, rather than digressing, I attempted to quickly define the topic of gentrification and then clarify my stance on it. In my proposal, rough draft, I didn’t immediately define gentrification or clarify my stance on it, thus making my introduction and proposal as a whole manifest considerable ambiguity. Because of the digression and ambiguity in my introduction, the peers who read my paper struggled to navigate through the trajectory and organization of my paper. In my final proposal, I attempted to digress much less and stick strictly to the topic of gentrification so that my topic was clear and so that an unequivocal thesis and trajectory emerged. Also, all the peers who reviewed my proposal suggested that I introduce more sources and scholarly debate in my proposal. As a result, in my final proposal, I added a paragraph in which I included an array of different scholarly sources asserting diverse and interesting opinions on the topic of gentrification and its effects. The sources I provided, I felt each possessed a unique perspective on the topic of gentrification. Also, most of the peers who read my proposal also suggested that I talk much more about how activism is related to the issue of gentrification. Thus, in my final proposal, I included a paragraph in which I referred to numerous different activist movements within New York City and San Francisco, which I plan to explore much further in my RBA.
During my Genre Modes presentation, a repeated suggestion I heard was to perhaps use less words. This suggestion on my infographic translates directly to the suggestions I had received on my research proposal. I tend to be wordy and this showed through both in my research proposal and in my infographic. This is a habit I need to continue to work on and really tried hard in my final proposal to minimize repetition and digression. Moreover, the feedback on my genre modes presentation, in which it was made clear that the audience felt my infographic possessed too many words, caused me to consider ways in which I felt I could sufficiently convey the most integral facets of gentrification. I still struggled with this in my final paper proposal as I went considerably over the word limit. However, although I still wrote a lot and surpassed the word limit, I truly believe I decreased my repetition and digression significantly. Yes, I did write a lot of words in my final proposal, but in contrast to my proposal rough draft, I feel that in my final draft, all the words and sentences had substance and thus were needed and not superfluous.
All the feedback I received on both my research proposal and my infographic made me realized I had to more clearly convey a specific research question. I responded to this by strictly relating activism on gentrification to my specific research question and thesis. I reiterated my questions and potential thesis so as to convey more clearly that not only would I be examining the effects of gentrification in New York City and San Francisco, but that I would also/predominantly be examining many different activist movements/efforts and their specific responses to fighting gentrification in these two cities.
Some possible research topics that are of interest to me are activist movements related to Climate Change, Immigration reform, racial equality (with a focus on the Black Lives Matter Protests), Social Media activism (the effects of social media on activism) and Labor Rights. In my opinion, all of these topics are of immense importance and are some of the most pressing issues facing modern society. As a result of the salience of the issues aforementioned, numerous activist movements both big and small have developed over the years in an attempt to address such issues and catalyze reform and change in some way. While the movements I have listed have all at some point been brought at some degree to the national spotlight and have been the subject of considerable research and national dialogue, I believe there are different angles and manners in which I can profoundly examine and analyze the aforementioned issues and their corresponding activist movements in American society.
One topic that immediately is of predominant interest to me is Labor rights activism. Poverty and economic inequality are some of the most severe issues underlying US society. The prevalent exploitation of workers, ubiquity of economic inequalities and lack of adequate and equal economic opportunity for citizens of the US are disturbing phenomenons, which reinforce persisting and even worsen binding social and economic inequalities in the US. As a result of the stark economic inequalities present in the US, as the top 1 and 10 percent grow wealthier at increasing rates, it is of invaluable importance to address such a crucial issue. One such way to address the realities of economic inequalities is by advocating for expanding and improving workers’ rights. According to eminent labor rights activist Phaedra Ellis Lamkins, “the labor movement has been the most successful anti-poverty programs in American history.” I would specifically look at labor movements in areas of concentrated wealth throughout the US, such as in Silicon Valley and the extended Bay Area. As such regions in the US advance and grow wealthier and wealthier, much of the accumulating wealth has been unequally distributed to the most affluent classes in society. As a result, many blue-collar workers and groups in the workforce have been left behind in the face of economic progress in such areas as the Silicon Valley. In these specific areas of increasing economic development and concentration, gentrification, rising rents, and rising costs for consumer goods have all transpired in the face of stagnant wages for the average blue collar worker. Such consequences of concentrated economic progress as in the Silicon Valley have left the average blue collar worker earning unsustainable wages in which minimum wages are no longer feasible living wages. In the face of exorbitant and dramatically increasing costs of living, it is imperative to address the needs of huge sectors of the workforce, which have not been able to reap the rewards of the rapid economic advancement of their regions. Increasingly, large sectors of the work force in these areas will no longer we able to afford and adequately sustain themselves in these areas. Furthermore, in order to inhibit the worsening of economic inequalities in regions of the US and to counter the negative effects of such inequalities, labor movements are of the immense importance for ensuring that all workers go acknowledged and adequately rewarded.
In Activism!: Direct Action, Hacktivism and the Future of Society, author Tim Jordan refers to the phenomenon of cultural codes and how US capitalism and corporate structure are conducive to the pervasive development of such manipulative codes. The US, prides itself on freedom and praises freedom as one of, if not the most important value of the “American culture.” So too is America’s practice of capitalism an extoled and distinguished characteristic and value of the “American culture”. For centuries, politicians and capitalists alike have emphasized the importance of these two specific values/traits of freedom and capitalism in distinguishing America from other nations of the world. For in the perspective of these politicians and capitalists, freedom enables capitalism. Yet, what if capitalism subverts this very freedom? According to Tim Jordan, capitalism, the long exalted economic system of America, may in fact undermine individual and societal freedom in profound ways through its generation of “cultural codes.” According to Tim Jordan, the American does not truly exist as an independent individual freely forming his or her idiosyncratic desires and interests, but is rather subject to cultural manipulation by the corporations of the world. “Unlike the authoritarian state, globalized capitalism does not seek control of desire, but control through desire…”(Jordan, p. 112).
Thus, corporations and the state shape the desires of the individual American and the American society as a whole. Therefore, the active presence of “cultural jammers” who can disrupt this manipulation of the “American culture” of are the immense importance in ascertaining veritable freedom in the American society. Cultural jammers must somehow reveal the manipulative cultural codes created by the corporations of capitalist America. After having read Jordan’s Activism! Chapter 5, the importance Jordan places on Cultural Jammers in society’s ability to transcend and conquer the binding effects of cultural codes and ultimately the role and necessity of cultural jammers is clearly emphasized. However, more complex and difficult is how cultural jammers can successfully realize their roles of “contesting cultural codes”; for these cultural codes are so deeply pervasive and ingrained in the “American Culture.” Moreover, some codes may even be too entrenched and durable to effectively contest or perhaps even discern. According to Jordan, “the cultures that are foisted on us, coming not from communities or individuals or families, but from profit-seeking companies and their hired semioticians, can be turned inside out.”(Jordan, p. 102). However, how can such cultures be turned inside out if some are so profoundly and subconsciously ingrained to the point that we and even “cultural jammers” are unable to even detect them?