In the last couple of decades, the world has witnessed unprecedented migration of people from their rural set-ups to urban environments. Broadly, the migration of people from their rural area to urban dwellings is referred to as urbanization. Specifically, urbanization is defined as the permanent concentration of a vast number of people in a comparatively smaller area of land, leading to the formation of the city. Non-agricultural activities characterize an urban area and the individuals in these areas are supposed to be spatially concentrated. According to experts, urbanization is a fairly complex concept that is influenced by various factors. The whole process of urbanization can be traced back to Europe and Great Britain, particularly, as its cradle.
The urbanization of these places was slow permitting the governments to plan meticulously for the populations. According to experts, the expansion of industrialization as well as enhanced fossil fuel utilization led to the spreads of urbanization in the developed countries in the 19th century. However, contemporary urbanization has been instigated by various factors. According to research conducted on urban dwellers, sixty per cent of urban dwellers is attracted by the allure that city life offers. Such a perception has seen urbanization tremendously grow in the last couple of decades. With this growth, issues have arisen but the grit and determination of people to move to urban areas has not checked the growth of urbanization. Urbanization has resulted in increased development in structures in the urban regions as to match the demand of art in the cities. Because of urbanization, gentrification has taken place in the New York City, this has resulted in the transformation of cultural values of people, and the place has lost its authenticity.
Cities have been gentrified in the current world because of urbanization. The educated urbanites have priced the authentic urban life: the aging buildings, small boutiques, art galleries, neighborhood old-timers, funky ethnic’s restaurants, upscale food markets and family-owned shops. These imply the place’s authenticity as compared to the bland standardization of the exurbs and suburbs (Zukin, 1988). Urbanization promotes globalization and these results into the rapid migration of people and capitals. The differences between people and national cultures have reduced. From the past, traders carried new ideas from one place to another as they engaged in commercial activities. However, the distance traveled and people interactions were limited. Currently, people can travel from one place to another within a short period following technological advancement in the transport sectors. Therefore, urban centers constitute of people from various parts of the world who interact as they engage in commercial activities. Cultural creativity and loss of the nation’s cultural authenticity are the outcome of urbanization.
Homogenization is evident in various cities including New York. The cities are characterized by high-status corporate office towers that intend to symbolize the economic modernization and to make the city competitive in the global race for financial investment. Artistic works have been intensified in the city to make it more attractive to both the affluent residents and corporate. Developers combine office spaces with expensive shops and leisure landscapes to keep the pace of modernization (David, 2012).
The current public image of the branding cities connect the cities financial activities, economic growth, tourism and cultural creativity. The financial elites and elected officials change the market rule to favor the dangerous degradation. They also promote cultural consumption facilities (Zukin, 2011). By the end of the 1990s, the physical landscape of the global cities such as New York did not separate creativity from consumption. Also, the symbolic landscape of the financial trading, fashion shows, and art auctions among others promote the image of individuals vying to boost about their excess wealth and demonstrate how the city engages in competition for both trendy and wealthy consumers and luxurious life in the city (Zukin, 1988).
Cultural competition is one of the ways of explaining the overwhelming force of standardization in the urban areas. In the 1960s, Jane Jacob, an urbanist, complained about the twentieth-century modernizers who adorn the progress and plotted to rebuild the cities with straight lines. As results, various homogenized structures were constructed which looked like high-rise towers. Jacob refers to these as the great blight of dullness. The gentrification the taken place in New York along with the developments that have been taking place in some of the areas around New York. It is important to give a neighbor a sense of distinctiveness; however, elites use the opportunity to make sure that the prices of real estates to go up and this makes the urban region lose its authenticity. Through gentrification, people are unable to trace their roots.
Since the 1970s, the New York City has experienced a lot of changes with the emergence of Garden movements and the renewal of urban projects. Slums were slashed; however, some of the promised parks and housing did not materialize. With the advent of urbanization project, the fight for garden increased as people strived to build expensive buildings that would help them earn a lot of money. With the increased urbanization, various challenges arose including lack of food and increase of homeless people in New York City. Currently, the cultivated spaces are deeply meaningful in that they are important for those who live in the few blocks of them and those who look for a quick buck in the global real-estate gold rush (David, 2012).
According to Sharon Zukin, urbanization has resulted in the loss of authenticity in New York City. The quest for authenticity may appear contrary to the concept of Manhattanization, which indicates that not everything in the city is authentic (Zukin, 2011). The high-rise buildings grow taller every day as cities compete with one another and people crowds together where one knows little about the neighbor and high price for inferior living standards. There is an intense competition in the styles unlike in the past where people would live in a community. The city presents the authentic origins, a mythical desire for roots and the new beginning of the continuous reinvention of the communities with physical fabrics of an environment that constantly changes around them. The increase in consumption of the new urban middle-class people fuels the rising of real estate’s values and great inflow of investments in the city that ultimately displaces the original inhabitants of the region who are left homeless and mom-and-pop entrepreneur.
There is uncommon space of neighborhood with distinctive histories and traditions that illustrates the origins and novel introductions are creating the sense of authenticity. The increase in real estate value with urbanization affects the capital investment as well as the government policies. Besides, it illustrates the media cultural power and new middle-class consumer’s tastes (David, 2012). The public spaces used by all people in the city is free and democratic. It reflects endless arcades of responsibilities and refines the city dwellers creative abilities to shape their social place. However, the whole space hides the paradox. Private groups of individuals who earn from the entire project own the public spaces.
Zukin states that the New York City is composed of people who pursue art for different motives. Some pursue it to make a living while others work to find urbanization in the art. Art can be used in defining the whole process of urbanization and how the entire process of urbanization unfolds (Zukin, 1988). In New York, the main source of money and reputation results from festivals which revolve around artistic work such as museums exhibitions and international competitions. The main purpose of the urban cities is to flourish art. As a result, the environments of these regions have changed to make them fit for the demands of the cities. Some of the changes evident in the city include increased construction of buildings and museums and other artistic squatters. These attracts various people from all over the world to dwell in the region and contribute towards the creation of an urbanized serenity.
David Harvey analyzes the increasing urbanization that has taken place globally but posits some threats in the society. He illustrates how the Marxist theory of urbanization is important in providing a framework for the analysis of neoliberalism in the globalization (David, 2012). The cities ought to be viewed as the main driver for urbanization. Instead of analyzing an industry as a source of urbanization, it is important to view the entire city as a source of urban life. Urbanization; therefore, encompasses various aspects joined within a city. To prevent social erosions evident in the cities, cities ought to be reorganized as a whole. Based on Marxists argument, Marx condemns the concept of urbanization under capitalism. The concentration of misery of mass workers in the urban settings is a necessary stage in the creation of revolutionary force. Urbanization results in the degradation of social plexus of the traditional community, as it is evident in the New York City. The emergence of urbanization widens an individual experiences and capabilities for participation in various activities. There is a lot of creativity as people compete with each other in the urban setting everybody desiring to reach the top most pinnacle of the societal ranking (Zukin, 1988).
Various theories have been developed to counter the Marxists argument about the negative effects of urbanization in the cities. For instance, some argue that urban is the frame of reference, and urban society is a form of social organization that that has become an object of scientific study in the current world. The impact of the urban economy on traditional forms of social association has become the basis of succession in the typologies, which is the best-known pattern variables. The study of society can be analyzed in form of
According to Shield, culture exists in three aspects, which include ethnicity, marketing tools, and aesthetics. The building experience in New York shows how the three cultural notions are reshaping the urban life and conflict over the revitalization (Shields & Zukin, 1997). Cities exist in a multicultural setting with various sub-cultures, and the cultures are constantly negotiated in the city’s central spaces. Culture gentrification contributes towards the making of the cities safer and civilized to live; however, it has a darker side as well (Parker, 2015). Under the perception of civility and security nurtured in the cultural strategies, it is evident that aggressive private sectors bid for control over the public space. They drive for relentless expansion of the artistic works and other non-profit cultural organizations and increase the redesign of the built environment for the purpose of social control.
Putting together the developments to a new symbolic economy basing on the media, entertainment and tourism, the connections between real estate and popular expressions can be traced. In the process, one gets to understand the vision of artistic elites and democratic representations in the society. Central places of the city such as shops and parks depict the modernism that has taken place in the New York City (Zukin, 2011). In all these, the main question that arises is that whose city or whose culture is represented in the central places. Shield implies that the central places are occupied by certain factions of the population more often than the other factions are. Therefore, the culture of a given faction is imposed as the public culture of the city. He gives an accurate implication of how the public space of a city represents the culture of the city and how they are transformed by the modernity (Shields & Zukin, 1997).
Culture is pervasive; however, complex and difficult to define in simple terms. It constitutes many definitions. Therefore, people behave depending on the cultural values they hold. On the other hand, some people may view culture as the composition of people’s traditional dance, artistic work and festivals among others. These elements constitute what defines an individual culture. With urbanization, there is a mix of all these elements from various groups. Nevertheless, one thing that is apparent is that people learn from each other in the urban setting and conform to the existing patterns of life. The culture evident in the city of New York is the culture of competition where people compete to outdo others in fashion and other aspects of life. This is the trend in all urban cities, and it constitute the main challenges associated with urbanization. The sense of community has been defaced as people settle in the urban regions with different motives (Parker, 2015).
Aesthetic refers to the beauty and good taste associated with culture. The process of urbanization has become an instrument that leads to capitalism in the society. The urbanization that produced the New York City requires surplus product, which are produced by capitalism. The means of capitalism perpetually produces the surplus products required in the urbanization. The renovation of the New York City based on Georges Haussmann planning is one of the main examples of the utilization of urbanization by the capitalists to absorb the surplus product. These results into the emergence of new life in the cities as it is evident in the New York City (Zukin, 1988). Urbanization takes place through the displacement and dispossession to sustain the capability to sustain the necessary conditions for social reproduction. The better common quality of social groups the more the likely of raided and appropriated by the private profit-maximizing interests. These result in the loss of neighborhood by the poor in the society through the predatory practices of the upper-class capitalists and consumers. For instance, the privatization of the housing and commodification in the New York City, which is based on the patent power of private owners over the assets. This is the main predatory practice of capitalists over the low-income classes. The best solution to address the current problems in the New York City that result from urbanization is through the formation of anti-capitalism measures. The city life of the lower income population is usually under attack by the neoliberals. Based on Marxist philosophy, the neoliberal assault on the capitalist system can be corrected through reformation of the state by bringing it back to the democratic control.
The rich people use their power to oppress the poor who remain homeless and lag in poverty because of urbanization. For instance, through the art rents in the urban city is an example of how the rich people monopolize the poor in the society. The power of monopoly is the beginning and the end of capitalism (Zukin, 2011).
Harvey proposes that the changing focus from the factory living-to-living spaces is the most helpful idea that can help address the problem experienced with the urbanization. Successful urban revolution requires a neoliberal globalization. Furthermore, the Parker discusses how changes in technology and communication are affecting urban networks leading to questions about the reasonability and effectiveness of the setup of cities (Parker, 2015). The fact that the book takes into account both the contemporary and classic theories about urbanization, and includes an extensive and wide range of cultural and literary sources is particularly interesting; this helps the reader gain an insight of the different theoretical perspectives present.
The effects of segregation as caused by urbanization encompass both direct and indirect effects. The fact that individuals from the ethnic minorities prefer to live in enclaves in disadvantaged places exposes them to various negative effects. Studies have revealed that members of ethnic minorities in the US such as the blacks and the Latinos are disadvantaged in the sense that the opportunities that they are exposed to are limited. Particularly, the possibility of such an individual getting hired pales in comparison to their white colleague and people from the decent suburbs of the New York City (Parker, 2015).
Also, the residential segregation as caused by urbanization leads to illiteracy. A high percentage of illiterate individuals in the New York City is attributed to the people of color. According to research, the black community occupies places such as Harlem, which is a slum found in New York. Conditions in these places do not encourage education. In fact, the lack of exposure has made these individuals think that education is not important. Instead of going to school, these populations engage in untoward activities (Zukin, 2011).
The assumption that urbanization has led to the gentrification of cities is fallacious. Research reveals that the cities are worse than they were a couple of decades ago. The consignment of the ethnic minorities to the squalors of the slum has led to the permeation of poverty in urban areas. The reason for this is because of the high prevalence of health risks that are associated with these areas. Furthermore, the poor in such cities are at a risk of experiencing high incidents of teenage pregnancy and other social problems. According to statistics, almost 80 percent of teenage pregnancies in the US are attributable to the ethnic minorities who stay in informal settlements such as slums and other disadvantaged areas (Parker, 2015). The pregnancies are caused because of a lack of knowledge on the part of the teenagers. Moreover, many of them have not been taught about contraception, which makes them vulnerable. These places also register a high number of Sexually Transmitted Diseases because of the fact mentioned above. Therefore, the inhabitants of the place do not only acquire unwanted pregnancies but they also get preventable diseases.
Segregation also leads to high mortality rates among the low-income families. The individuals who live in squalid conditions in the slums or disadvantaged areas of suburbs have been shown to have a high frequency of death. Medical conditions such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases are prevalent these localities. Further, waterborne and airborne diseases such as tuberculosis also spread quickly in the enclaves. Indeed, people who dwell in slums account for a high number of waterborne and airborne deaths in the New York City. Due to the low level of education that characterizes them, the residents of shantytowns do not exercise basic preventative measures such as vaccinations. As a result, diseases that had been contained in the previous years end up afflicting them. All of this is accredited to the lack of education, a common characteristic of these localities (Zukin, 2011).
As much as urbanization has its advantages, it also has disadvantages. The process has led to residential segregation, which can be traced back to the early 19900s. In the whole process, it is evident that the poor have suffered from urbanization. Gentrification of cities has made it difficult for people to put down their roots. Subsequently, they suffer from a wide-range of issues such as high death rates, high pregnancies to their teenage girls and high crime rates. For cities like Paris and New York, the major source of money and reputation comes from festivals revolving around arts such as museum exhibits and international competitions. Hence, the strategy of these cities is to ensure that art can flourish there. Consequently, the environment of these cities has been changed to make them fit with the demand of art in these cities. Lastly, the loss of city authenticity because of capitalism as caused by urbanization has greatly influenced the urban life. Therefore, efforts need to be done to counter segregation and other effects of urbanization in the society. There has been a loss of the community touch and neighborhood with the urbanization.