Archive for October, 2014

Philly.com has an article about a recently published report that includes Philadelphia as a “divided city.”  The report is thin on original ideas, but thick with sound bites. This new report cites David Brooks and Charles Murray (talk about academic rigor – NOT!). Two conservatives whose arguments rarely stand up to intellectual scrutiny.  Oddly, the tone of this “report” is quite Brooksian…Social Science based on vague “research” and popular conservative cultural ideas. It also seems to favor urban models developed in the mid century. We think it should more accurately be titled, “Using GIS and US Census Data to Put a New Spin on the Age Old Class Divisions While Padding Your Curriculum Vitae.”

The use of “creative class” in this report (from a Toronto university) is a bit of a misnomer and disingenuous.  What about artists, writers, etc. who are the truly creative among us, vs. those in finance and law (not terribly “creative” pursuits).  True creatives often live in cheaper neighborhoods, so would be “outliers” in this report. The report’s “creative” class really just describes the rich. Maybe it’s just their data analysis that’s truly creative.

The report paints American cities with a very broad brush and makes inaccurate assumptions (e.g., about Center City). This locale hasn’t been “industrial” for quite some time, if ever. Though the researchers assume it was an industrialized part of the city and is now just a residential area filled by the “creative” class (i.e., yuppies). The maps in the report are also rather specious. The “pluralities” of a certain “class” identified in any given area may be just over 50%, but the tract is still given only one designation. This is how Manayunk is creative, but “Richmond” is not.  Yes, they don’t even have the neighborhood names listed correctly…

Creative mapmaking and Yuppiemandering

Creative mapmaking and Yuppiemandering

Society Hill vs Southwark is an old example of the divide that this report argues is some completely novel phenomenon. There have always been geographic and class divisions in America.  Population growth and universal college education have simply produced more people with better pedigrees to live in more desirable locales so they can push the poor out further. The situation is not new, but the numbers are.  This report will not be read by most, but it’s “findings” will be repeated and reported widely.  Maybe that was the point all along…

We should be looking for ways to Brook these divides...

We should be looking for ways to Brook these divides…

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