The aesthetic homogenization of cities

Apa Studies 22 (1):7-10 (2022)
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Abstract

Why are cities looking more and more alike? Why do hipster coffee shops and clothing boutiques all share that same vibe? One answer is that gentrification represents an invasive force that forcibly re-models cities, from the top-down, to meet the monotone eye of the gentrifier. Gentrification brings in external developers and designers, who create new businesses which all meet that one monotonous aesthetic mold. But I suggest, using work from Quill Kukla and Jane Jacobs, that this top-down model of gentrification is incomplete. Gentrification also incentivizes local residents to remake their own businesses and properties to meet that monotone eye. Gentrification is a pressure which pushes cities to meet a universalized and therefore homogenized taste, rather than letting diverse tastes flourish. (This piece originally published as part of a symposium on Quill Kukla's City Living.)

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C. Thi Nguyen
University of Utah

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