“Everyone involved in the demand side of gentrification belongs to the same economic class and therefore possesses the same set of motivations; the ‘otherness’ in this gentrification is something that needs to be problematised rather than assumed.
Redfern, P.A. 2003 What Makes Gentrification 'Gentrification’? Urban Studies November 2003 40: p. 2351.
Nearly 30 years ago now, Holcomb and Beauregard were critical of the way that it was assumed that the benefits of gentrification would ‘trickle down’ to the lower classes in a manner similar to that hypothesised in the housing market. As all the gentrification research shows, despite the new middle classes’ desire for diversity and difference they tend to self-segregate and, far from being tolerant, gentrification is part of an aggressive, revanchist ideology designed to retake the inner city for the middle classes.
A spokesperson for the development company Argent plc said:
In the case of King’s Cross Central (previously found at www.kingscrosscentral.com) recently renamed King’s Cross (now found at www.kingscross.co.uk), the line of desire is key to the effective functioning of the entire development/ gentrification programme.
As retail footfall is managed, retail property prices and rents increase. This results in the residential house prices soaring and thus a property bubble is created.
This artificial price bubble drives profits for key investors but years on results in a stagnant over-priced development which slowly degrades as investment dries up.
Investment is then directed at other poorer areas and the gentrification cycle continues.
So, on the one hand, we have a new source of supply of housing but on the other, this does nothing to address anxieties about identity and status. Gentrification offers a means for some people to resolve those anxieties by taking advantage of the opportunities offered by this new source of lifestyle engineering and upmarket housing. But the non-gentrified are just as concerned with the maintenance of their identity, but do not have access to the same amount of resources.
Struggles over gentrification exemplify the general concern with identity in conditions of modernity, which should be understood as the subjective experience of everyday life within a capitalist mode of production.
Struggles over gentrification are class-constituted and class-laden2 and can be seen as a form of hegemonic4 practice.
Gentrification creates a clash over the meaning of a place; it is a synecdoche that has resonances for the anxieties we all have about our own status and identity in the modern world.
The King’s Cross Commissions seek to ask the question:
‘can art function as an effective mediator of change or resistance to hegemonic power, or is it doomed to be a decorative and irrelevant footnote to forces more powerful than its capacity to confront?’5In light of this, a series of films are being commissioned to explore this. They are called the King’s Cross Commissions and will span a five year period. The naming of the enterprise seeks to question the increasing appropriation of the name ‘King’s Cross’ which covers a much wider area than the development in N1C. In addition it explores the potentially detrimental gentrifying effects inflicted on the surrounding communities on an ongoing basis.
1. Lees, L., Slater, T. and Wyley, E., Gentrification (Taylor and Francis Group, New York, 2008), 275.
2. Redfern, P.A. 2003 What Makes Gentrification ‘Gentrification’? Urban Studies November 2003 40: 2351-2366,
3. Holcomb, H. B. and Beauregard R. A 1981 Revitalising Cities, Washington DC, Association of American Geographers.
4. definition of Hegemony: ‘the domination of a culturally diverse society by the ruling class, who manipulate the culture of the society; the beliefs, explanations, perceptions, values, and mores so that their Weltanschauung becomes the worldview that is imposed and accepted as the cultural norm’ Oxford english dictionary.
5. Fisher, J. 2002 Towards A Metaphysics Of Shit. In Documenta 11, Platform 5,The Catalog, Ostfildern/Ruit: 65
A note about all the commissions:
All the films were commissioned by Pauline Bickerton, reading Fine Art at Central St Martins Art and Design School. All film-makers selected were commissioned to self-represent and were selected because they live where the films were made and installed.
All film-makers were paid and given artistic licence to produce whichever film they felt best depicted their life in the specific area. All were aided by Chris Martin from UCL, an authority in self-representative documentary film.
All films are copyright to the respective film-makers but are licenced under creative commons attribution- share-alike 3.0. They are not available on-line but require to you to see them in situ.