- Paperback: 312 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (October 27, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0415951828
- ISBN-13: 978-0415951821
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,798,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Neo-Bohemia: Art and Commerce in the Postindustrial City 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
The increasingly intimate but still uneasy relationship between "alternative" cultures and the forces of globalization underlies Vanderbilt professor Lloyd's sparkling ethnographic study of Chicago's hipster enclave Wicker Park. Once the down-at-heel home of Frankie Machine, the junkie protagonist of Nelson Algren's [The Man with the Golden Arm], it's now the sort of neighborhood where one can look at art, linger over a cafe americano, listen to poetry or indie rock, or be cordially abused by record store clerks straight out of High Fidelity, which was filmed there. Good on the big picture, Lloyd's 10 chapters situate the evolving neighborhood within a complex nexus of commercial and social forces that he calls the "aesthetic economy." But as thorough (and commendably dogma- and jargon-free) as Lloyd is on background, it is in the "field" that he shines, bringing abstract concepts to life with a real feel for the "new economy" bars, galleries and high-tech startups, as well as the often happily exploited people who work in them. Trading high wages for the romance of bohemia, the bartenders, baristas and code punchers of Wicker Park are evolving new codes and values often strikingly at odds with suburban ones, and Lloyd's study gives their evolution a wealth of nuanced human detail. This combination of solid research and a good ear gives Lloyd's book an unusual depth; none of his readers is likely to undertip an eyebrow-studded waitserver anytime soon. 15 b&w photos. (Oct.)
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...It is an important contribution to urban studies that will be appreciated for years to come..
Mitchell Duneier, Princeton University and CUNY Graduate Center, and author of Sidewalk
...It is theoretically knowledgeable, substantively rich, and intellectually smart.
Harvey Molotch, author of Where Stuff Comes From and coauthor of Urban Fortunes
...This is a smart, cogent book that thinks big and attends to details with equal virtuosity..
Carlo Rotella, author of Good With Their Hands: Boxers, Bluesmen, and Other Characters from the Rust Belt
Some of Lloyd's best work comes in his dissection of Wicker Park's economy, which depends largely on its hip, young residents either working long hours as bartenders or waitstaff, or long hours in various digital design occupations. This is fascinating, original and deeply humane sociology at its finest;...
Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com, November 17, 2005
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Lloyd sets out to explore and uncover modern day bohemian enclaves that dot inner-cities across the Western world, again focusing on Wicker Park as a prime example. Other such places that fit the neo-bohemian vibe would be neighborhoods and districts like Greenwich Village, SoHo, Capital Hill (Seattle), Mississippi Ave (Portland), just to name a few that quickly come to mind. From the book description, "Neo-Bohemia brings the study of bohemian culture down to the street level, while maintaining a commitment to understanding broader historical and economic urban contexts." The reasoning behind focusing on neo-bohemia is that, "the new bohemia of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries plays a necessary novel role in enhancing the interests of postindustrial capitalist enterprises, especially property speculation of various sorts, entertainment provision, and new media productions." (18)
Although academic in nature, I found the book refreshingly readable and enjoyable. It was certainly no slog-fest where I had to fight through the book. Instead, I was almost saddened when I reached the end because I had finally hit my stride and was tracking with where Lloyd was going and the points he was articulating. The book is laid out in four main sections; Industry and Art in the Modern City, A Postindustrial Bohemia, Artists as Useful Labor, and Conclusion.
So why read Neo-Bohemia? It goes beyond the superficiality of fashion and tracking where bohemians and hipsters live, it is about looking at the new economy that is reshaping the global city. "Artists may well play a cruicial part in transforming once decaying districts, and may, as I have argued, become not only advertisements for local hipness but resources in postindustrial labor markets, but they are an especially vulnerable population themselves." (258) This is paramount to understanding the changes that are taking place in cities across North America. When I look into my neighborhood in inner NE Portland the book gives me a different framework to understand what is undergirding the changes that are at hand regardless of how far along neighborhoods are in the gentrification process. It is to the gentrification process that Lloyd writes, "What this book primarily contributes to gentrification studies is not a further cataloguing of the evils of displacement, but a consideration of dynamic urban districts not only in terms of displacement and yuppie consumption, but also as postindustrial production sites, facilitating new forms of labor-force reproduction and exploitation." (260)
The book offers a good counter-balance for the bulk of Richard Florida's writing beginning with The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community, and Everyday Life. There are some areas where Lloyd and Florida see eye-to-eye and at other times Lloyd respectfully parts ways. With that said, they are complimentary books to read together. It is at this intersection, both in terms of bohemians and neo-bohemian enclaves where I explored in regards to faith lived out (metrospirituality) in these contexts in Metrospiritual: The Geography of Church Planting and View from the Urban Loft: Developing a Theological Framework for Understanding the City.
Overall, Neo-Bohemia was a phenomenal read. It was educational, entertaining, and eye-opening.
Beyond the history lesson, "Neo-Bohemia" explains how, in our postindustrial era, creative communities are viewed more positively and actually help to gentrify areas that were once avoided. Comparisons to NYC's Greenwich Village and SF's North Beach (along with Paris' Montparnasse and Montmartre) are made to better prove the point. Great read if you have any interest in gentrification and urban development. Only complaint is I felt that there was too much emphasis on the negative aspects of artists Vs. yuppies. I was hoping more for statistics, rehabs and major commerce associated with gentrifying areas.