2004 volume 36(7) pages 1243 – 1258
doi:10.1068/a36240

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Curran W, 2004, "Gentrification and the nature of work: exploring the links in Williamsburg, Brooklyn" Environment and Planning A 36(7) 1243 – 1258

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Gentrification and the nature of work: exploring the links in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Winifred Curran

Received 30 September 2003; in revised form 27 November 2003

Abstract. This paper looks at the linkages between gentrification and the displacement of small-scale manufacturing and blue-collar work in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Although the link between global economic change and gentrification has been made for the upper classes who are the consumers of the gentrified landscape, very little work has been done on the blue-collar work and workers that remain in the central city despite the assumption by policymakers that deindustrialization is complete. I argue that manufacturing is still a viable sector of the urban economy that is increasingly at risk of displacement because of the conversion of industrial space to residential use and speculative real-estate pressure. In this way, gentrification is encouraging industrial displacement, which in turn is leading to the degradation of the blue-collar work that remains and to the increasing informalization of work.

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