'Hipsters on the High Street: retail gentrification, class and disgust'
- Geography and Environmental Sciences Building (R26 on the Edgbaston Campus map) Room 311
- Lectures Talks and Workshops, Life and Environmental Sciences, Research
Part of the School Seminar Series
Speaker: Professor Phil Hubbard, University of Kent
Host: Dr Phil Jones/Tess Osborne
Gentrification is the displacement of working class populations by a more affluent population, a phenomena most obviously manifest in the transformation of residential landscapes. But this is something that is also palpable in the changes visible on many shopping streets, with locally-oriented stores serving poorer populations and ethnic minorities being replaced by ‘hipster’ stores such as ‘real coffee’ shops, vintage clothing stores and bars serving microbrews. These stores - often discoursed as bohemian and counter-cultural - have been taken as a sign that the fortunes of struggling shopping streets are improving, and are seen to offer a better range of healthy, green and ‘authentic’ consumption choices than the shops they displaced. However, this paper argues that we need to resist this middle class discoursing of retail gentrification as retail regeneration, and remain sanguine about forms of consumption which, while aesthetically ‘improving’ local shopping streets in deprived areas, actually encourage the colonisation of neighbourhoods by the more affluent.