Gentrification – plebeianization

Linea Verde


In urban planning, the work object is the city, a city that never stops being, that transforms every day and with its multiple facets surprises and inspires us, the city the best invention of man.

One of the most used strategies in European urbanism for the transformation of cities is’Gentrification’, from the English word “gentry” which translates as noble or bourgeois, understood in its context as elitism of the area. A socio-spatial change, where former residents are displaced by a new group of higher income. New groups led to the recapture, recovery and renewal of urban centers, groups who are looking for a better quality of life –due to the proximity of services, infrastructure, workplaces, i.e.- The arrival of these groups generates an increase in the price of the property, displacing and replacing lower-income households, altering the built environment and bringing forth a new urban life style.

This process has been widely used in various European cities, to renew their historic centers. In Latin America this strategy, would might have another course, if instead of gentrification of the urban centers, the urban peripheries become the subject of gentrification, with the implementation of projects that create services, infrastructure and workplaces, i.e., another proces that creates public value.  According to Professor and Urban Sociologist Arnold Reijndorp (Holanda-1948), the problem of cities lies in the distance that slums have with services and workplaces. Gentrification to the Latin American way should therefore focus on this problem.

In the city of La Paz -Bolivia, there has been asingular phenomenon, the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales with economic power coming from the nationalization of natural resources, is developing projects in the Bolivian cities, one of these projects was the construction of cable cars in the city of La Paz, connecting the plebeian city of El Alto to the city center and the residential suburbs. After a run time, the population of El Alto began to easily commute to different parts of the city and thus came to privileged residential places and began to colonize and utilize existing services over there.

In other words, the distance mentioned Reijndorp disappeared, and the plebe, the mobs, seized the services and facilities in these areas. In this sense,plebeianization of the city has a positive, strong democratizing component, a leveling process that no longer needs prophets and visionaries. Because the factua luse of these services by the ‘alteños’ (people from the city of El Alto), ennobles and honor the city, because it gives a social value, and gives grandeur and distinction.

The plebeianization of culture is inclusive, rather than exalting one aspect of culture, tends to blur the boundaries and hierarchies among all cultural forms. Tends to build a new hegemony, where social and economic disparities, are narrow, and because it is building a more democratic city, a city where the pieces are being stitched by a remarkable infrastructure (cableways) creating urban continuity as a base to built a democratic society.


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