Monday, September 23, 2013

     Hello all, I have never written a blog before so sorry if what I write does not make any sense, or is wrong.  Normally I like to keep my thoughts to myself because I fear about how I might come across.  Incidentally, I am adding this digression because blogging for dummies says I’m supposed to (seriously, that’s not a lame attempt at humour).

     Anyways, after reading the Sharon Kelly’s article “The New Normal: The Figure of the Condo Owner in Toronto’s Regent Park”, I was reminded about a documentary I saw called invisible city by Hubert Davis.  I could not find the full film, but this the trailer: 


     I found it interesting that the filming of the documentary coincided with the ethnographic fieldwork conducted by Kelly.  However, the documentary offers a different view, as the director follows two Black Canadian youths who live in Regent Park, commenting on their struggles within the community.  I feel that this low-income perspective contrasts nicely with Kelly’s article.  Watching the film added depth to my understanding of the “social mixing” taking place through the revitalization of the neighbourhood.   I really enjoyed the premise of the article, which questions this whole idea about how the condo-owner might struggle with the idea of being some kind of saviour.   Among other things, both works left me wondering if this social mixing in the area might have the opposite effect of lowering crime in the area, and actually make it worse.

     Coincidentally, while reading for another course I am taking, I came across a sociological theory brought forth by Thorsten Sellin.  He argues that “cultural conflict” is a main factor of criminal deviance.  Basically, from what I understand, when the norms and values of two different cultures collide, conflict emerges (I must have missed something because that seems way too obvious).  Sellin discusses what he refers to as “take-over” situations, or the infringement of a more dominant group onto another group’s territory. As an example to explain this concept, he specifically highlights how “middle-class people gentrify a rundown neighbourhood” (P.66) .  After reading this, I immediately thought about the middle-class condo owner/low-income resident dynamic in Regent Park.  Intrigued, I wanted to see what has been happening since the first phase of the revitalization that Kelly discusses, and since the film came out in 2010.  I found this article by Sara Thompson and Sandra Bucerius:

     I felt that the Star’s take on the development project (especially the first two paragraphs!) really provides weight to Sellin’s argument, fitting almost perfectly with his ideas that I clumsily laid out above. 

     Both the The Invisible City, as well as, Kelly’s “The New Normal” questions the ideology behind the concept of social mixing. This, in turn, left me questioning it. It looks as though the concept failed, and that crime has indeed gotten worse in Regent Park. While the project was a social failure, my guess is that it was probably an economic success from a private investment perspective.

Other Sources: 

Patricia A. Adler and Peter Adler. Constructions of Deviance: Social Power, Context, and Interaction, 7th edition (Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing, 2012) pg. 66

Sara Thompson, and Sandra Bucerius "Regent Park revitalization: Has it created an us versus them dynamic?" (Toronto Star, June 2012)


Blogger Dan said...

"It Is not Enough to succeed; one’s best friend must fail" said somebody. I think this sentiment is reflected well in your investigation of Regent Park. The private investors seem to have succeeded while the residents (old and new) are left to meet or fail to meet expectations. And so they have perhaps lost in some way?

9/24/2013 2:28 PM  

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