Over the past week, I received my final feedback from Nate Freiburger and it was pretty glowing. He really had few substantive recommended changes for me to make—largely just to 1) clarify my use of the concept of neoliberal entrepreneurialism in the context of urban politics and 2) point towards investigating how transit-induced displacement is interpreted by those displaced as an area for future research. It’s a bit ironic that the first point had become somewhat muddled, as the entrepreneurial neoliberal city formed my initial theoretical framework for this paper. While I do explain the notion of the entrepreneurial city within my background on neoliberalism, upon reflection I realize that this explanation was not enough to make subsequent uses of the phrase “neoliberal entrepreneurialism” clearly about city actions. This was a pretty easy fix however, as I just appended “municipal” to most of my references to entrepreneurialism. I’m still considering how to integrate the second point into my analysis—it’s going to be somewhere in the implications section, obviously, but I’ve yet to decide how exactly. I tend to dislike sections of papers that just dump a set of potential research directions, so I am definitely going to be looking for how to integrate this call in a discussion of the conclusions of my research.
I also began breaking apart the bottom of the hourglass, separating it into two subsections on interpreting the transit premium found and challenging neoliberal smart growth. This involved a kind of re-outlining of my existing content and painstaking sentence-by-sentence revision. My tentative outline for the bottom of the hourglass right now is:
- Interpreting the price premium
- Increasing rents make more developments pencil out. Given the city growth machine, this is seen as an end in itself
- Transit is one in a set of amenities adding value to a place.
- Transit also serves a fundamental need for mobility. This function is in contradiction with the utilization of transit as a tool of gentrification.
- Equity issues are highlighted further by examining the nature of the global city
- These contradictions are known by planners, who are nevertheless complicit in amenity-fueled gentrification by dint of their structural position
- Challenging neoliberal smart growth
- Light rail and TOD are seen as the way to create a better city. Lay out how my thesis offers a way of thinking about the contradiction between use and exchange values of transit.
- Discuss potential solutions.
- The globality of the problem.
I’m still developing my thoughts on how to best address Jim Proctor’s call to mark out the new conceptual territory that my thesis adds to the scholarly literature. Over the course of this research, I had not previously found literature that specifically brought together smart growth urban planning, neoliberalism, and gentrification. However, a “grey literature” search via Google for the term “neoliberal smart growth” revealed several papers and referenced papers—mostly theses and dissertations—doing just that, including Mackay’s (2016) “Third-Wave Neoliberalism in Theory and Practice: A Case Study of the Halifax Centre Plan,” Tretter’s (2013) “Sustainability and Neoliberal Urban Development: The Environment, Crime and the Remaking of Austin’s Downtown,” Adamo’s (2012) “Intensifying Inequality in the ‘Sustainable City’: A Political Ecology of ‘Smart Growth’ in an Era of Neoliberal Urban Governance in the City of Ottawa, Canada,” and Dierwechter’s (2017) Urban Sustainability through Smart Growth: Intercurrence, Planning, and Geographies of Regional Development across Greater Seattle (which is unfortunately unavailable via any means besides paying $100 for the ebook at the moment). My use of regression analysis alongside critical perspectives is still relatively unique, however, and I anticipate focusing on how this mixed methods approach brings to bear the inherent contradictions of equity and growth within the smart growth regime.