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Gentrification, social action and 'role-playing': Experiences garnered on the outskirts of Hamburg

Peter Birke, Florian Hohenstatt and Moritz Rinn

International Journal of Action Research, 2015, vol. 11, issue 1-2, 195-227

Abstract: This article reflects experiences of a working group against gentrification in Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg, which is a district in the midst of the harbour inhabited by poor, migrant and working class people. Since the early 2000s, in the verge of the transnational tendencies of „revitalisation” of waterfronts, Wilhelmsburg was specifically targeted by local politicians to better its public image and attract investors and new middleclass inhabitants. Vehicle of these transformations were two big exhibitions, taking part in the district in 2013, but announced almost ten years earlier, fol-lowed by encompassing and partly successful measures to valorise real es-tate and privatise public space: e.g. the International Building Exhibition (IBA) and the International Gardening Exhibition (igs). The Working Group on the Restructuring of Wilhelmsburg (Arbeitskreis Umstrukturi-erung Wilhelmsburg) was founded when the results of the valorisation began to gain momentum: massive rent increases, reduction and „enclosure” of public space, and intensified social segregation. In order to oppose those tendencies and as part of the Hamburg-wide „Right to the City”-network, the group experimented with a wide range of actions: participa-tion in protests against rising rents, street theatre and performances, initiatives against the instrumentalisation of artists and district culture by IBA and igs, as well the evaluation of the process by means of critical socio-logical research. Beyond the multiplicity of these variety of action forms the group was searching for alternatives against the intense process of gentrification in the community. The article shows that, although the pro-test movement gained a lot of public attention, this question is still unan-swered.

Keywords: gentrification; social action; urban social movements; poor peoples movements; right to the city (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A13 R10 R21 R23 R31 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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International Journal of Action Research is currently edited by Werner Fricke, Richard Ennals, Oyvind Palshaugen, Sabine Pfeiffer and Danilo Streck, editor-in chief

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