Photo by Robert Bobryk
VISUALIZATION OF GENTRIFICATION AND POVERTY. SYMBOLS OF SOCIAL POSITION IN A REVITALIZED CITY – THE CASE OF ŁÓDŹ
Paulina Bunio-Mroczek, Jagoda Przybysz
Gentrification belongs to the key concepts necessary to understand the dynamics of urban space (Groyecka 2014). Within the process of gentrification, changes of urban neighborhoods go along with changes in a city social structure as well as with socio-spatial re-segregation and re-location of inhabitants. There is no agreement to what the driver of gentrification is (the famous production vs. consumption dispute). Also, there is no homogenous interpretation of possible results of gentrification: some claim gentrification deepens social inequalities, pushing poverty out of sight and out of the city center, others argue that it provides a desirable ‘social mix’ required to diminish the ‘neighborhood effect’.
The city of Łódź used to be the center of Polish textile industry. Transformation from socialist into global capitalist system meant deindustrialization, de-proletarization and pauperization of the working class. In the 1990s, the former workers’ districts, located in and around the city center, turned into poverty pockets, inhabited to big extent by social welfare recipients living in old impoverished tenement buildings. Considered ‘poor’ and ‘ugly’ for many years, Łódź is now the first Polish city to introduce a large and complex revitalization program, co-financed with the EU funds. The megaproject of re-invention and re-creation of the ‘New Łodź’, and especially of the ‘New Center of Łódź’, meant to eradicate poverty, stimulates gentrification.
The exhibition provides visual interpretations of gentrification and poverty presenting symbols of social position in a revitalized city using the example of Łódź. Inspired by Robert A. Beauregard’s framework (1986, after Lees, Stater, Wyly 2010: 19), we focus on ‘the potentially gentrifiable neighborhoods’, ‘the potentially gentrified’, ‘the facilitators and active agents of gentrification’ and ‘the potential gentry themselves’.
4th of July (Tuesday) — 1st Conference Day, 18.30-19.00