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- Author or Editor: Geoffrey DeVerteuil x
‘Resilience’ has become one of the first fully fledged academic and political buzzwords of the 21st century. Within this context, Geoffrey DeVerteuil proposes a more critically engaged and conceptually robust version, applying it to the conspicuous but now residual clusters of inner-city voluntary sector organisations deemed ‘service hubs’.
The process of resilience is compared across ten service hubs in three complex but different global inner-city regions – London, Los Angeles and Sydney – in response to the threat of gentrification-induced displacement. DeVerteuil shows that resilience can be about holding on to previous gains but also about holding out for transformation. The book is the first to move beyond theoretical works on ‘resilience’ and offers a combined conceptual and empirical approach that will interest urban geographers, social planners and researchers in the voluntary sector.
This chapter outlines the five cornerstone of the book. First is the bringing of critical intent to the concept of resilience, the production of which is usually seen as regressively status-quo, by developing what is deemed a ‘critical resilience of the residuals’ whereby the relics of previously more equitable (Keynesian) arrangement are protected and defended. Second, a more ambivalent, if not supportive, version of the voluntary sector is presented. Third, a more complex interpretation of inner-city territory, one buffeted by multiple motivations that can breed resilience, rather than advancing a purely punitive representation, is advanced. Fourth and finally, the comparative approach will valorize overlooked, ordinary agents and practices (of care, sustenance, abeyance) within global-city regions, and propose novel approaches to comparing the voluntary sector and resilience comparatively. Further, the rich empirical material will be used to explore some empirical questions around the degree of similarity and difference across the Australian, UK and US welfare state and voluntary sector settlements.
This chapter develops a parsimonious concept of social and spatial resilience that is directly applicable to residual arrangements (service hubs), while also opening up some critical intent for the term. It is this careful and singular focus on resilience that builds upon, but also sets my work apart from, others who have deployed resilience from a critical (yet more peripheral) perspective. Upon defining social and spatial resilience, seven propositions are included to develop a more critical stance: resilience requires a threat (acute or chronic); resilience can be adaptive, and is more than just ‘bouncing back’ or persisting; resilience is a process and, not an endpoint, and can be produced; resilience can be enabled, shared and transferred; ‘everyday’ resilience is a potential alternative to spectacular ‘resistance’ or ‘reworking’; resilience can be critical, but perhaps not transformative; and that resilience can be usefully applied to residual arrangements.
The voluntary sector is deeply implicated in and influenced by neoliberalism. The voluntary sector owes some of its growth to neoliberalism while acting as a substitute for the Keynesian welfare state, unable to match the latter’s scope, scale, coverage and universality. Rather, the voluntary sector is far more ad hoc, uncoordinated, asymmetrical and uneven, reflecting the vicarious nature of voluntary action and state support. So if the clustering of the voluntary sector in service hubs was Keynesian or even pre-Keynesian, the agents themselves have a complex relationship to both previous systems and the incompletely consolidating neoliberal one. The very complexity of this relationship animates two viewpoints on the voluntary sector: the dismissive, which sees it as a neoliberal stooge thoroughly enrolled in its projects, and the ambivalent to hopeful, which sees it as quasi-independent of the current governance structure, resilient and an important enabler of social resilience. This second viewpoint valorizes agency. This agency has led to very specific forms of spatial resilience and service hub geography, enabling both centrality and accessibility.
This chapters outlines the methodological approach to the multi-site, comparative project at hand. The chapter is divided into three sections: (1) the sample frame for the three global city-regions, the ten inner-city areas and the 100 voluntary sector organizations, referencing global cities theory; (2) an operationalization of resilience and the threats to it, in the form of proxies and metrics of social and spatial resilience to the displacing logics of gentrification in the uneven post-welfare city; and (3) an exposition on the comparative methods, referencing the burgeoning literature on comparative urbanism and how it may inform (comparative) resilience among the voluntary sector.
The global city-regions under study have been thoroughly examined for decades (though rarely compared), particularly London and Los Angeles; so much so that they have become touchstones for global city-region theorization, to the detriment of knowing and comparing other, more ‘ordinary cities’, especially in the Global South. However, this does not mean that we know everything about London, Los Angeles and Sydney, especially with regards to overlooked service hubs in backwater inner-city space. The overall aim in this chapter is to flesh out the critical exogenous dimensions of resilience. This is first done by embedding the global city-regions within their larger national political context. Second, the local welfare and voluntary sector settlements is traced in each global city-region, which also involved tracking the dramatic reinventions from the 1980s onwards, when London, Los Angeles and Sydney all attained a certain global city status. Third and finally, a place typology is offered for the ten inner-city areas that will structure the empirical analysis from Chapter Six onwards.
This chapter considers voluntary sector resilience within the two areas with the highest levels of gentrification and upgrading: London’s Westminster Borough, and the Surry Hills area in Sydney. High and sustained levels of gentrification engendered spatial resilience among voluntary sector organizations that was more longstanding, embedded and strategic, but at a price, as these hubs were also thoroughly entrapped within the gentrified inner-city – in some ways, frozen by the forces of neoliberalism and NIMBYism but not mortally threatened.
This chapter considers matters of service hub resilience within the four areas with mixed levels of gentrification and upgrading: the London boroughs of Islington, Lambeth and Southwark, and the Darlinghurst/Kings Cross area in Sydney. All featured medium gentrification index scores, medium levels of voluntary sector organizations per capita, medium levels of non-white populations, and medium criminalization index scores. It was found that gentrification was more mixed than the ‘established gentrified’ neighborhoods, creating hodge-podge geographies of resilience and displacement, with gentrification counterposed with, and sometimes threatening, conspicuous areas of poverty and, in the case of London, large-scale council estates.
This chapter consider voluntary sector resilience for two areas with relatively low and recent levels of gentrification, combined with traditionally very dense and robust residuals of voluntary organizations: Downtown and Hollywood, both in inner-city Los Angeles. Both areas featured high proportions of non-White populations and measures that criminalized the poor (or at least contained and put them under surveillance), but also by far the highest levels of voluntary organizations per capita, with Downtown having an astounding 14 organizations per 1000 persons, and Hollywood with 3.77 organizations per 1000 persons. As interviews with the dozen emergency facilities emphasized, the Downtown service hub – focused on Skid Row – had become so large, dense, vested and publicly-funded over such a long period that it would be a gross waste of taxpayers’ money to actually dismantle it. Rather, the public strategy has been to compress it and gradually erode its sharp boundaries, particularly on its western and northern (gentrifying). A contrasting example is given by Hollywood, where resilience was more politically supported in the form of amenable policies that made the retention (rather than erosion/displacement) of voluntary sector organizations a priority.
This chapter considers spatial resilience of immigrant-oriented voluntary sector organizations – and how they enabled resilience socially – set within a predominantly immigrant community space: Pico-Union in Los Angeles and Tower Hamlets borough in London. The two most important immigrant groups in these enclaves are Central Americans and Bangladeshis respectively, and both consider these areas their original settlement hubs. Accordingly, focus was put on the service hubs that have emerged to cater to an immigrant clientele.