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Defining Patriarchal Gentrification

Wal-Mart Hermosillo
Image via Wikipedia

In a recent blog post, I used the phrase, “It is gentrified patriarchal resistance that prevents local resilience”. I was challenged that this was possibly the use of language as an obstruction, just using big words to be grandiose or something. To be fair, these are big words, and although these words are not common in today’s language, they are frequently used in discussions of urban planning and community development.

To break it down:

Gentrify
– renovate so as to make it conform to middle-class aspirations.
Patriarchy – a male-oriented social organization
Resistance – a force that tends to oppose or retard motion
Resilience

  1. The ability to recover quickly from illness, change, or misfortune; buoyancy.
  2. The property of a material that enables it to resume its original shape or position after being bent, stretched, or compressed; elasticity.

My use of the words as a phrase concentrates on the belief of those in power in all levels of government, that the aspirations of middle class citizens for more, bigger, better, faster, etc; in particular through the male dominated decision-making process at the local government level acts in total opposition to the process of developing local resilience through smaller, simpler, slower systems.

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I’ve written previously on what it means to be resilient, and each community has to identify its weaknesses before determining how resilient it is against external shocks to the food, health, economic, climatic or social systems that form the very basis of society as we enjoy it. But while middle class aspirations seek to transform rural to suburbs, or suburbs to classy subdivisions or country towns to cities, the opportunities to build resilience are destroyed, one WalMart at a time.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.