It is undoubtedly the case that we live in an age where wealthy people dominate the world and that there is strength in numbers. Many would argue gentrification has a negative effect in towns whereas others claim it brings richness to inhabited poor towns. It is clear that both Brixton and Brick Lane have suffered from their consequences but how good are those? However, not only gentrification affects the culture of a determined place, but also does the commodification as it happened since not many years ago in both Brixton and Brick Lane. As with the gentrification, the consequences are different between both areas and will be analysed below.
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Gentrification is defined as the process by which wealthier (mostly middle-income) people move into, renovate, and restore housing and sometimes businesses in inner cities or other deteriorated areas formerly home to poorer people. Because of this prices rise and, these rising prices then force out the remaining population of lower income people and more middle and upper income people are attracted, perpetuating the cycle of gentrification.
As a result, in many cases, large families are forced to leave the area because they cannot afford to pay such high rents leading to a change in the culture of the place.
This way, those poor families who have to face the hard reality of measuring each coin they own in order to feed the whole family and pay all the expenses so that they are not kicked out. That is how it works, some rich people not satisfied with their current wealth want to enrich even more even though they are ruining others´ life.
In general, gentrification is driven by people with little empathy and rather selfish whose only aim is to be greedy. Others would argue that gentrification brings richness to the culture and economy of the area and that it does not have any setbacks. Fortunately, there are few cases when gentrification has been welcomed because it has not been done with evil intention.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES
But, which are the advantages and disadvantages of gentrification? On the one hand housing values increase for homeowners and also an increase of tax revenues for city services. Furthermore, reinvestment is made in infrastructure, roads, water mains, local schools etc. Another positive aspect would be that some businesses expand or change to serve new populations and this enhances the economy.
In addition to this, housing stock might be renovated and upgraded to the income of money to the area. As there economy enhances, development of job opportunities occurs either in the short term or in the long run. All these lead to the redevelopment of urban core in a short period of time. Likewise, for those working downtown, the commuting reduces considerably. Finally, gentrification brings the concentration of population and public services in existing areas thereby reducing suburban sprawl.
On the other hand, a great deal of disadvantages exists. First of all, as previously mentioned, higher income investors displace lower income residents making them feel angry. In other words, burden of economic displacement placed on those least able to afford it. Another downside of gentrification is that it disrupts community institutions rooted in neighbourhoods. However, the one of the worst drawbacks could be that forces people to move away from community institutions built to serve needs.
Obviously, due to all these facts, racial and economic conflict during the transition period could be increased. Gentrification also has a bad effect on markets as markets can be manipulated to serve developer interest at the expense of older residents and new investors. Last but not least, it increases urban density and parking/traffic problems in neighbourhood.
As far as Brick Lane´s gentrification is concerned, famous artist who were looking for cheap studios and workshops, got interested in and attracted to Brick Lane. Unfortunately, if we focus on this side, gentrification has had a negative effect on Brick Lane because local artists have been victims of displacement owing to their higher rent. Should we look it from the point of view of culture, Brick Lane is losing little by little its well-known creativity since numerous computer art companies are taking over the area.
As a result of its unusual historical heritage, Brick Lane has turned into the home of many different backgrounds. The Bangladeshi is still the leading ethnicity in the area followed by the Asian community. After that, hipsters are progressively becoming the third most influential community in Brick Lane. Nevertheless, as gentrification changes the same do a lot of ethnicities and that can be reflected in younger generations of Bangladeshi who are willing to separate from their parents without losing their roots.
Nevertheless, fortunately, despite the gentrification attempts, Brick Lane remains almost exclusively Asian. The Bangladeshi´s strength in the area is so noticeable that many investors do not dare to go there so Brick Lane does not even suffer the consequences of gentrification. Of course it has suffered from it but like many other places in the world. We could say that the culture of Brick Lane is almost intact when it comes to consequences of gentrification.
That could be seen in the fact that Brick Lane and its surrounding streets house are some of the poorest people in Britain, yet within a few hundred yards to the west lies the City of London – the richest area of the UK.
When it comes to Brixton´s gentrification, the gentrification process started 20 years ago more or less although the process has become noticeable only during the last few years. The typical newcomers to the area are middleclass young professionals working in London, looking for modern flats at a relatively affordable price in a trendy area such as Brixton.
Even though gentrification forces residents to leave their neighbourhoods, numerous families who have lived in Brixton for a long period welcome the changes because they feel the process will give them the chance to improve their quality of life.
Thanks to the increase of the value of houses provoked by the gentrification, various families can afford now larger houses and they can give their children a better education in better schools. In spite of the fact that some of them do not have more choice but to leave Brixton, most shops and market stalls remain, and a large amount of people who have left the area come back to Brixton in order to go shopping or whatever they are willing to do.
Because of its sheer proximity to the London center, the neighborhood is getting more urbanized and civilized and money is invested in the areas real estate. Apart from the improvement of the neighborhood through gentrification, Brixton can also benefit from the cultural tourism.
Although gentrification has commonly a bad connotation because diminishes the local culture, to my mind, gentrification is having a good effect on Brixton. This is supported by the fact that the area is becoming little by little even safer and the poor economy is enhancing as well. The point is that the Afro- Caribbean culture is very strong because those who left come back in order to run their businesses and those newcomers of the area are eager to adapt and experience the local culture.
Nowadays peoples of different nationalities and ethnicities mix in the district but Afro-Caribbean still predominate. However, it is true many families were forced to move unfairly but I think it has been worth happening because the positive sides overweight the negative ones.
Taking into account all these facts, I feel the gentrification of culture between Brixton and Brick Lane is being different from my point of view. Brick Lane has hardly suffered the process of gentrification and the culture remains almost intact whereas the gentrification in Brixton is being tougher. The culture of Brixton is being affected but I think it is being for the good of Brixton because it used to be a controversial place where it is famous because of its crimes and drug dealers, therefore I think a renewal is needed as long as it does not destroy the little Jamaican´s culture and heritage.
Commodification is the transformation of cultural icons, personalities or artifacts into a commodity. Cultural commodification can be understood as the process of “eating others”. You bring your own culture to a new place and step by step you achieve to settle it down and thus, then the new assembled culture is normal in the place. The previous culture in a specific place is altered and substituted by a new one.
One important moment of Brixton happened in 1948 when immigrants from Jamaica on the Empire Wind, arrived in England looking for a better life, these British African- Caribbean individuals were housed and worked in Brixton. This is regarded as a landmark in history as the symbol of multiculturalism society in Brixton. It is thanks to this movement why it can be noticed easily the commodification of culture nowadays in Brixton.
As you walk through the streets, it is rather difficult not to realize that you are surrounded by a different culture because the stores, restaurants, people and smells make you feel you are in a new environment.
Not only do you come across with Caribbean food in restaurants and afro Caribbean people, but you also find in markets clothes and bags with the Jamaican flag and colors. Obviously, the Bob Marley is present almost everywhere.
Nevertheless, it is not just about Jamaican culture in Brixton, there are also South American Butchers and restaurants are an important part of the picture along with Vietnamese and Indian supermarkets.
Unfortunately, commodification has brought bad things to Brixton as well. Brixton is known as the drug capital of London where is not weird to catch people smoking cigars in the street being this due to the Rastafarian movement who think smoking is something good. Likewise, commodification has created a rather uncomfortable sensation in Brixton because is one of the most dangerous places to live in London because its rate of crime.
Brixton used to be a place where the British Afro-Caribbean culture had its center but now this is dissolving into a more general and “commercially viable” mix of cultures.
The commodification of culture in Brick Lane is rather high nowadays as I could feel when I went there more than a month ago. The commodification could be reflected in almost every single aspect of the life in Brick Lane. First of all, what really impressed us was the amount of Indian restaurants in the zone. Therefore, food is one of the most important factors which have changed the culture in Brick Lane in the last decades.
Of course, the amount of Bangladeshi was surprising even though it was market day and a lot of tourists come in order to have a memorable time.
Everything is clearer if we see that Brick Lane is known as Bangla town because there might be a rationale to being called like this. In 1970s when Bangladeshi refugees moved into the Brick Lane the new religion was introduced, the Islam. Although there are diverse ethnicities, Bangladeshis dominate the area.
Furthermore, the street art is very important in Brick lane and gives a special ambiance to the area and the famous markets too.
In both Brixton and Brick Lane the commodification of culture is rather relevant because they are very famous in London because of its determined cultures. They differ from other areas in London
In Brixton the black community is still present but as tourist flock the area, the commodification of culture is changing again. The original culture is changing into something new. I think this good due to the setbacks about crime and drugs I have just mentioned above.
In Brick Lane the commodification is an important part as well and it can be seen very easily if you go to Brick Lane. The advantage of Brick Lane´s commodification is that there are few problems in Brick Lane and it is a safe place to live whereas Brixton has received many claims
Whether it is viewed as positive or negative however, there is no doubt that gentrified areas are becoming important parts of the fabric of cities worldwide. There is no doubt that Brick Lane and Brixton are very famous because of its cultures and that they have its different charm.
However, nowadays, Brick Lane´s situation regarding culture seems to be better because the gentrification is not high and the commodification is benefiting the area whereas Brixton is suffering more the consequences of gentrification and the culture is changing quicker than in Brick Lane and the commodification in Brixton is giving little benefits to the area.
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