Fifth Van Doorn lecture

Fifth Van Doorn lecture by professor Jan Rath - June 17th 2022

Fifth Van Doorn lecture - Commercial Gentrification and New Urbanity

Hip entrepreneurship, cultural consumption and new urbanity: Effects of commercial gentrification

The lecture was followed by a response from a panel including Paul Sharo founder of Man with Glasses Coffee, Ron van Gelder, Alliance Hand in Hand, Winkelboulevard Zuid and Joke van der Zwaard, independent researcher. The afternoon was led by moderator Tracy Metz. 

Slowly but surely the city is being populated by a new breed of residents. They are often highly educated, 'originally' Dutch or 'expatriate', relatively young, and generally form one- or two-person households or small families. These 'new middle-classes' are attracted by the apartments with character, the leafy surroundings or the busy shopping streets, the beautiful location of the neighborhood, its diversity and tough character. They personify the seemingly inevitable residential gentrification that is so much talked about, and at the same time drive a process of commercial gentrification. 

Ethnic enterprises and other stores and businesses at the lower end of the market are slowly but surely giving way to hip and chic businesses such as coffee bars, craft beer breweries, vintage boutiques, cat cafes, vegetarian restaurants, yoga studios, bookstores, design stores, cake architects and mineral water specialists. 

The arrival of new places of consumption not only improves neighborhood amenities, especially for the benefit of the middle classes, but also provides these urbanites with as many opportunities to sculpt their social identities.

New urbanity, new middle class
In the Fifth Van Doorn Lecture the emergence and display of new urbanity' is further explored. The range of urban amenities lends itself perfectly to this and it is actually remarkable that so little has been studied up to now. But if you look at all those shop windows and signs, at the products and services, and at the vendors and their customers, you see the changing composition of the population. And also the changing use of public space, the changing urban politics, the changing tastes and preferences of residents, and their changing identity and urbanity. That's what makes the rise of these new businesses and the cultural consumption that takes place there so interesting. Who are the middle-class people who visit these stores and businesses and, secondly, what social processes take place there, how do they interact, what connects them with each other and with the neighborhood in which they live?

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