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Abstract

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. REVIEW OF LITERATURE
  4. SETTING AND METHODOLOGY
  5. GENTRIFYING PETS?
  6. THE COMMUNITY OF DOG OWNERS
  7. CONCLUSION
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. REFERENCES

This article examines the role of animals in the processes of social inclusion and exclusion in a gentrifying neighborhood. Residents who move into mixed-income, inner-city neighborhoods generally express a taste for diversity while simultaneously attempting to distance themselves from “undesirables.” Dogs allow newcomers to manage these tensions. The urge to control public spaces leads to the creation of new and quasi-exclusionary places, such as dog runs. At the same time, in the process of creating them, residents produce the neighborhood's image as a “diverse community.” Based on fieldwork conducted in a neighborhood of a large city in the northeastern United States, the author uses a wide range of discourse settings and genres to demonstrate that discursive production is part-and-parcel of the process of making places.

De humanos y animales: Construyendo fronteras en un barrio en proceso de aburguesamiento (Sylvie Tissot)

Resumen

Este artículo analiza el rol de los animales en los procesos de exclusión e inclusión social en un vecindario en proceso de aburguesamiento (“gentrification”). Los residentes que se mudan a barrios con ingresos mixtos en zonas marginales de la ciudad generalmente expresan preferir áreas con diversidad pero, al mismo tiempo, hacen un esfuerzo por mantenerse a distancia de los “indeseables”. Los perros ayudan a los recién llegados a manejar este tipo de conflictos. El deseo de controlar los espacios públicos lleva a la creación de nuevos espacios casi-exclusivos como las zonas para pasear perros. Al mismo tiempo, en el mismo proceso de crear dichas zonas, los residentes generan una imagen de su barrio como una “comunidad diversa”. En base al trabajo de campo llevado a cabo en un barrio de una gran ciudad en el noreste de los Estados Unidos, la autora hace uso de un amplio espectro de configuraciones y géneros discursivos para demostrar que la producción discursiva es parte integral del proceso de creación de lugares.

In recent years, a number of newspaper articles as well as TV and radio reports have covered the growing craze for pets in the United States. Journalists detailed the stunning proliferation of retail sites and services as well as books and magazines that specialize in the subject.1 Beyond the intense media coverage-–and attendant irony about Gucci collars, yoga lessons (doga), and Prozac tablets purchased by wealthy dog owners-–the phenomenon, nonetheless, is a significant sociological subject. Pets constitute social markers, and relationships to them are also based on contrasting socioeconomic norms: as but one example, we might consider the vastly different resonances between an attack Pit Bull trained by an inner-city youth and a French bulldog, which an affluent management consultant entrusts daily to “doggie daycare.”

In addition to this class consideration, like many cultural practices, pet ownership (and dog ownership in particular) has a crucial spatial dimension. Over the last decade, dogs have not only become more numerous in some large city neighborhoods, but their social and economic role has also grown more prominent with the creation of new retail shops dedicated to their needs, as well as new spaces devoted to exercising them: dog runs. This article focuses on a dog run created in 2007 in order to analyze the relationship between social boundaries and spatial boundaries. Although seemingly small, trivial public places, dog runs play a crucial role in the processes of inclusion and exclusion among the residents of gentrifying neighborhoods. I argue that gentrifiers actively use public spaces, such as dog runs, to create social boundaries, to exclude others as well as define insiders. Spatial boundaries allow them to distinguish themselves from the poor, ethnic minorities, and “deviant” populations, although in complex, various, and sometimes ambivalent ways. This article also highlights what the sociology of animals brings to the understanding of contemporary urban life.

REVIEW OF LITERATURE

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. REVIEW OF LITERATURE
  4. SETTING AND METHODOLOGY
  5. GENTRIFYING PETS?
  6. THE COMMUNITY OF DOG OWNERS
  7. CONCLUSION
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. REFERENCES

While drawing widespread attention since the 1980s, the transformation of working class inner city areas into renovated residential and/or commercial neighborhoods attracting a growing number of middle-class residents has fueled heated scholarly debates. One major theme relates to the positive versus negative dimensions of gentrification, each one respectively emphasized by the “emancipatory city thesis” and the “revanchist city thesis” (Lees 2000; Lees et al. 2008:195–236). In addition to efforts made to overcome dualist oppositions between “bad” or “good,” major works have sought to combine cultural phenomena, the economic production of space (Hamnett 1991; Zukin 1988), and the State (Wacquant 2008) to explain the “back to the city movement.” My article aims to address one apparent contradiction exhibited by scholarship on gentrification when it comes to assessing inclusion and exclusion in the redefined spatial distribution of the American middle class. On the one hand, the bulk of the literature on gentrification shows that the arrival of the middle class to inner city neighborhoods progressively leads to the creation of bastions of homogeneity, where some detect the mark of a “Revanchist city” (Smith 1996) or a “new colonialism” (Atkinson and Bridge 2005). On the other hand, as major books and articles suggest, gentrifers are influenced by the counterculture of the 1960s: whether called the “new middle class” (Ley 1996) or the “creative class” (Florida 2002), they generally express a taste for “diversity” (Caulfield 1994; Pattillo 2007) as well as “authenticity” (Brown-Saracino 2009; Zukin 2008) and show a high level of social tolerance. How can this apparent contradiction be resolved?

Gentrification is often described as being primarily a process of exclusion. From this perspective, displacement and a loss of sense of community among long-time residents appear as the main consequences of gentrification. Research on public space has been particularly compelling from this perspective. The development of trendy boutiques, art galleries, and upscale restaurants and the progressive closing of pawnshops, ethnic stores, and fast-food restaurants are the most readable signs of the transformation of an inner-city slum into a sought-after address. Renovations of buildings and urban landscapes have strong symbolic dimensions: such interventions make the dominant cultural norms of the newcomers highly visible and sometimes hegemonic (Lloyd 2006; Mele 2000; Zukin et al. 2009). Not only retail space but also parks and sidewalks are places that a new, more affluent population progressively appropriates, while old timers see their traditional gathering places disappear.

In contrast, several works, pointing to the “complexities and contradictions of public space” (Lees 1998:238), substantiate a more nuanced view. Anderson explains how the first generation of gentrifiers has learned to become “streetwise” in “tricky public spaces” and to distance themselves from those yuppies who are unable to share public institutions (Anderson 1990). Although gentrifiers increasingly control public places, they also expect Jane Jacobs’ (1961) vision of a diverse population and vibrant streets to remain the reality. As Lloyd states, “sharing the streets with working-class and non-white residents, even if personal interaction remains superficial, is part of their image of an authentic urban experience” (Lloyd 2006:78). As Modan argues, “contrasting the urban heterotopia with images of an ethnically, economically and architecturally homogeneous suburbia,” White gentrifiers use the opposition between heterogeneity and homogeneity to define themselves: thus, for them, “neighborhood legitimacy is rooted in a deep knowledge of the built environment and the people who live in it, and a strong level of comfort in the neighborhood's public spaces” (Modan 2007:98, 105). Brown-Saracino also shows how the endorsement of diversity structures some gentrifiers’ identity: she provides a vivid description of “social preservationists,” who carefully support family-owned bars and restaurants in order to slow down the impact of gentrification (Brown-Saracino 2009:105–144). Even if it results in shallow interactions and does not exclude bigotry, as Anderson convincingly demonstrates, the search for “diversity” creates more ambivalent attitudes than a simplistic “class war” analysis might suggest. I chose to pay close attention to a specific public place, the dog run, in order to explore the gentrifiers’ ambivalent attitudes toward interactions with “others.”

One of the most compelling results of the sociology of animals is a refutation of the argument that human/nonhuman relationships occupy a less important place in contemporary societies than in the preindustrial world (Sanders and Arluke 1993). Indeed, animal practices play a crucial role in the construction of identities (Irvine 2004; Jerolmack 2007) and of class and race boundaries, as revealed by works on the inclusive effects of dog ownership (Messent 1983; Robins et al. 1991) and the role of animals as social markers, either for less privileged people (Twining et al. 2000) or for the dominant classes (Kete 1994; Ritvo 1987).

The multiple processes of domination that are at play in interactions involving animals (Tuan 1984) can be extended to the question of space. Major books have investigated the ways that animals shape territories (Philo and Wilbert 2000; Wolch and Emel 1998). However, there is little research on those public spaces inside traditional parks created for dogs during the last decade: dog runs. Interestingly enough, scholars specializing in gentrification convincingly suggest that pets are part of a broader process of imposing specific social norms (Anderson 1990:222–228; Brown-Saracino 2009:91; Duneier 1999:202–212): like certain clothes, eating habits, and decorating styles, pets have become a gentrifier's social marker. Yet, while noticing the presence of dogs in gentrifying inner-city neighborhoods, none of these scholars describe public spaces as being first and foremost the sites of repression and privatization in an era of growing inequalities and neoliberal policies (Davis 2006).

And indeed, at first glance, the scene of a dog run bears little resemblance to the political struggles in Tompkins Square on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and in People's Park in Berkeley, at which protesters and homeless people confronted the police and public institutions (Mitchell 2003; Smith 1996). In these little pockets of ground surrounded by low fences, the police are nowhere to be seen: no billy clubs, but ball launchers; no sirens, but the sound of small talk and occasional barking. Besides, the frequenters of the park, while not supporting antigentrification protests, might well have strong views about the necessity to support “diversity,” and even, like the “social preservationists” studied by Brown-Saracino (2009), oppose the displacement of the working class. Rather, class-based spatial appropriation goes hand in hand with negotiating situations in always-contested public spaces. The study of a seemingly peaceful public space illustrates this complex dynamic of inclusion and exclusion among gentrifiers.

As I will explain in the next section, this article focuses on a specific group of gentrifiers: upper middle class residents. It makes use of concepts developed by Pierre Bourdieu to examine the ways in which dogs allow upper middle class residents to manage the contradiction between a desire to protect themselves from “undesirables” and to interact with their peers, on the one hand, and a willingness to live “diversity” concretely, on the other. Canine ownership serves as a mark of distinction. This allows upper middle class dog owners to symbolically appropriate public space and create new and arguably exclusionary places, such as dog runs. Public spaces are open and accessible to everybody in principle but not necessarily in practice (Orum and Neal 2010). Thus, symbolically significant spatial boundaries clearly overlap social ones, although on a very different basis from the homogeneous suburbs.

In fact, in the process of creating the dog runs, newcomers also express their dedication to “diversity.” Because like most public spaces, the dog run and the park where it is located foster interactions among strangers, and, thus, not only do they function as sites of power relations, but their users can also develop a rhetoric of openness and tolerance. It would be simplistic to reduce this devotion to sheer hypocrisy. Rather, it is a dimension of upper middle class habitus that manages its privilege via a mix of exclusion and inclusion (Lamont 1992).

SETTING AND METHODOLOGY

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. REVIEW OF LITERATURE
  4. SETTING AND METHODOLOGY
  5. GENTRIFYING PETS?
  6. THE COMMUNITY OF DOG OWNERS
  7. CONCLUSION
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. REFERENCES

The research took place in Dover, a gentrifying neighborhood of a large city in the northeastern United States.2 In 2010, the total population of 34,669 residents of Dover was composed of 17,153 Whites, 5,938 African American, 4,830 Asians, and 5,745 Hispanics. Although the neighborhood has left behind its “skid row” reputation, it has been unevenly gentrified and is still considered a mixed area (residents living in subsidized housing account for 40% of the population). Several hundred Chinese and Hispanic residents live in public housing located a couple of blocks from Charles Park. The area around Charles Park does not have the much-desired brownstones, but vacant lots and empty factories. A pawnshop, a Dunkin’ Donuts, local pizza stores, and hairdressers stand in sharp contrast to the upscale restaurants and cafés serving lattes and espressos two blocks away. Significant changes have, nonetheless, taken place in recent years. The city, which witnessed a dramatic economic boom in the 1980s and 1990s, has seen its real market prices skyrocket. In 1995, the city designed a large renovation plan aimed at attracting business to the Charles Park area. A significant number of lots owned by the city were sold to high-end developers, thus resulting in the construction of 10 loft buildings. This plan included the renovation of Charles Park and the creation of a 16,500 square foot dog run. The mobilization of a very active group of dog owners, the Charles Park Association, predominantly composed of new upper middle class residents, played a major role in the fundraising.

This article is based on broader research on the role of civic engagement in the transformations of Dover from the 1960s until now. My research focused on about 20 local groups. Formerly composed of working-class and middle-class residents, upper middle class newcomers have progressively taken control of neighborhood associations. In the 2000s, residents with a similar profile created other groups, such as associations in charge of maintaining and renovating parks. I conducted in-depth interviews with 77 members of various local groups, 53 of whom are still active. Among these 53 residents, only one was born and raised in the neighborhood; the vast majority moved to Dover during the 1990s and 2000s, either from more upscale central neighborhoods, from the suburbs, or from other cities. With the exception of six residents, all of the remaining 53 fit the definition of upper middle class, as well-paid professionals and managers who have advanced educational degrees and enjoy a high degree of autonomy in their work (Gilbert 2003). All but two interviewees are homeowners and actively use homeownership to define themselves. I lived in the neighborhood for a total of 13 months and managed to integrate myself in the social life of my interviewees, thus getting to interact with a larger group of residents, who nonetheless were roughly circumscribed to White upper middle class homeowners. My original topic (neighborhood associations) explains the focus on high-status members of the middle class. But as the process of gentrification is no longer limited to the middle class, with some cities now seeing “supergentrifiers” belonging to the upper strata (Butler and Lees 2006; Lees 2003), I argue this focus profitably sheds light on the current process of gentrification.

As the importance of the dog run issue became increasingly clear, I systematically introduced questions concerning dogs to my interview guide and decided to interview the leaders of the Charles Park Association as well as their main opponents. I also centered my observations on parks and retail shops. This mix of material allowed me to investigate the relationship between urban transformation and residents’ rhetoric on neighborhoods. Drawing on Bourdieu's analysis of social distinction (1986), I observe the relationships between dog owners and their animals as one dimension of a class habitus. I focus on various practices and tastes (dog breeds, shopping, walking, sociability in dog parks) that reveal a distinctive lifestyle and transform public places in which these practices take place. In addition to issues of lifestyle, the study of the symbolic dimension of class boundaries has opened up a series of research questions that address the way people define themselves and others (Lamont 1992; Lamont and Molnar 2002). Residents who move into neighborhoods such as Dover fashion a rhetoric of justification in order to present themselves to others and to themselves as legitimate residents. This is not an easy process. In keeping with their residential choice, gentrifiers praise the value of mixed neighborhoods as opposed to the traditional “moral order” of the suburbs (Baumgartner 1988). On the other hand, they are eager to mark their values and socioeconomic status into the physical surroundings (Steward 2008). In her research in Washington DC, Modan shows how discourses allow residents to remake the neighborhood in the image of the “kind of people” they claim to be (Modan 2007). Thus, discursive production is part of the process of making places (Gieryn 2000). Drawing on the same theoretical and methodological perspective, I will first investigate the impact of dog ownership on urban transformation to show that dog ownership reinforces social distinctions within the public spaces used by gentrifiers. In the second part, I will focus on the arguments employed by defenders and users of the dog run. Speaking about the benefits of dog runs and dogs, they are able to shape a legitimate representation of the neighborhood as a “diverse community.” Thus, while paying attention to the process of identity formation in a group of upper middle class residents, I aim to bring to light the transformation of contested spaces, such as parks, in a gentrifying neighborhood.

My article is based on interviews and archival sources taken from a wide range of discourse settings and genres. In addition to interviews, I used the Charles Park Association's website and documents. Since she was no longer the president of Charles Park Association and since the dog run had just been officially approved by the city, an informant gave me a large file composed of public documents as well as internal ones: prospectuses, a user guide for the dog run, documents listing various reasons to support the dog run, technical documents, letters to city officials, agendas, and so forth. She also showed me 83 messages sent by residents who signed the petition in favor of the dog run. I copied the most interesting and telling excerpts and took down data on the authors of the emails. I supplemented this qualitative data with a five-day survey. I went to the dog run at various times of the day and passed out a brief questionnaire composed of nine questions concerning the dog run user's sex, age, occupation, income, race, sexual orientation, marital situation, and dogs (breed, name, and expenses). My impression is that my foreign accent has not reduced response rate among residents for whom English was not a first language. Longer discussions sometimes followed the questionnaire.

As Jerolmack (2005) explains, moral motivations sometimes lie at the base of scientific research in the field of the sociology of animals. Some scholars may be inclined to criticize as much as analyze the treatment of animals in human society. I was prone to a different normative bias. I have never had pets, and I come from Europe: even if one can see many dogs on the sidewalks of Paris or other cities, pet owners have a looser relationship to animals. The emotional links to animals are not expected to be as strong and the pet industry is not as developed. As a consequence, I came to the project unfamiliar with the role pets can play in American culture. To overcome potential cultural bias, I used two seemingly opposed strategies. During a one-week period of dog sitting for an interviewee I became acquainted with, I regularly went to the dog run as an ethnographer, to observe interactions from the inside. However, I distanced myself from the animals themselves in order to focus on residents. I was especially attentive to what humans said about themselves, about the neighborhood, and about “others” while talking about pets.

GENTRIFYING PETS?

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. REVIEW OF LITERATURE
  4. SETTING AND METHODOLOGY
  5. GENTRIFYING PETS?
  6. THE COMMUNITY OF DOG OWNERS
  7. CONCLUSION
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. REFERENCES

The transformation of public spaces in Dover is consonant with broader demographic trends that reveal an acceleration of gentrification since the 1990s. The percentage of owner occupied units has increased from 17.3% in 1990 to 25.6% in 2000 to reach 34.4% in 2010, and the percentage of White residents rose from 39.4% to 50.3% to 55.7% in 2010. The median household income went from $41,590 in 2000 to $51,870 in 2010. Accordingly, new retail spaces that serve an affluent clientele have opened, and well-to-do residents are more visible in the streets and parks. During the same period, animals have given a particular hue to the transformation of public places. Exclusive spaces have been created for dogs and, consequently, for their owners. Animals have also made gentrifiers’ norms more visible. It has to be noted that dogs are not used consciously to appropriate public space. Motivations such as genuine love and, as I will explore, the quest for a less family-centered sociability explain why so many residents have mobilized in favor of the dog run. Still, the class consequences of this undertaking need to be underscored: if there is a “model of pacification [of public spaces] by cappuccino” as analyzed by Zukin (1995), is there such a thing as privatization of parks by pets?

SOCIAL EXCLUSIVITY OF ANIMAL PLACES

In Dover, gentrification has gone hand in hand with a proliferation of animals. The number of dogs registered by the City Department of Animal Control has quadrupled between 1997 and 2007. An article published in the local newspaper in 2006 estimated that there were 841 dogs for a human population of 28,000, which is the second highest ratio per capita of all the neighborhoods in the city (a less central but likewise gentrifying neighborhood with a lot of green spaces boasts the highest ratio). No official statistics are available to establish the profile of dog owners, but this evidence suggests a link between dog ownership and high socioeconomic status.

During close and recurrent observation of the dog run, especially during my one-week dog sitting, I noticed that the overwhelming majority of the people were White. I gathered various clues suggesting that they were members of the higher strata of the middle class. I ran into numerous members of neighborhood associations I had previously interviewed for my study on civic engagement (the vast majority of whom are upper middle class residents).

Participant observation also gave me the opportunity to have a discussion with a resident of Dover who regularly uses the dog run. This straight White man of my age had just bought a condominium in a new loft building a couple of blocks away; he owns a company, which sells sports tickets, and he works at home. Although he insisted on it being totally “ridiculous” and “hilarious,” he admitted that he often goes to the local bakery for dogs—indeed, he described it as his favorite place. He is also familiar with the high-end spa that has just opened across the street from the dog run. He commented at great length on the expenditures devoted to dogs, and, considering the cost of professional dog sitters, emphasized the money my friend had saved by my volunteering to dog sit.

Still, considering my own profile (a White 36-year-old academic, whose European accent usually draws attention and helps start conversations), I was more likely to interact with someone with similar racial and socioeconomic characteristics. As a consequence, I felt the need to confirm my still impressionistic observations and to overcome my own class biases with a more scientifically grounded methodology. The results of the questionnaire I circulated in the dog run revealed a higher socioeconomic status than I had initially guessed (several of my interviewees turned out to have an annual income above $500,000). Among the 60 dog owners who answered my questions, half (48.3%) had a personal income above $100,000, putting them amongst the richest 15.73% of the US population, and 65% earned over $70,000 and belonged to the richest quartile of the population (US Census Bureau 2005). Nine in 10 were White (the others defining themselves as Asians, Hispanic, and other—I met no African Americans). The question relating to the pet budget provided the most surprising results: the average monthly spending on pets of the 60 people interviewed during my five-day survey was $225, and for a few interviewees, it was as much as $800, clearly indicating the socioeconomic status of the dog owners, but also the symbolic investment in animals, as I will discuss later.

This does not mean that all dog owners living in Dover are upper middle class residents. But less wealthy dog owners tend to use another park rather than the dog run—although on an illegal basis—to let their animals roam off-leash. This park is less socially and racially exclusive than Charles Park dog run. One White gay man of Italian origin, who has been living in Dover since 1978 and was unemployed at the time of the interview, told me he would rather walk his dog there, and not in the dog run where he resents the snobbish atmosphere.

In addition, class and race lines do not match those of gender and sexual orientation. Thirty percent of my 60 interviewees in the dog run were gay people and almost exclusively men (one gay woman).3 Previous studies have analyzed the reasons why gay males rather than gay females gathered in specific neighborhoods: there are gender differences in the capacity to dominate space or to resist violence in public space; men have easier access to capital and are also less likely to be primary caretakers of children, thus, having more time and money to take care of dogs (Adler and Brenner 1992). Gay people account for a large number of the gentrifiers in Dover, which is situated close to inner-city bars. In this neighborhood, where young parents have only recently started to move in permanently, many residents who do not completely conform to the dominant family and marital norms instead purchase and “raise” dogs. Such is the case for many gay residents but also for other newcomers: retired or semiretired people who have finished raising their children, often in the suburbs (and whose need for social and ethnic homogeneity has subsequently declined), and have more time to enjoy urban life; young couples who do not yet have kids; but also middle-aged women, either single or divorced, who yearn for a new life after having spent most of their years as mothers and wives. As my fieldwork in neighborhood associations has brought into focus, moving to Dover, participating in community groups, and owing dogs all help create social and emotional links that are not exclusively limited to the domestic and family sphere, to the heterosexual world, and/or to White middle-class suburban culture and activities (Miller 1995). Admittedly, the three leaders of the Charles Park Association are all straight women, two of whom are single, but gay residents made up a third of the board members. Together they have actively fought for the creation of the dog run.

Turnover in Dover is very high: 56.3 percent of the population in 2000 had a different house in 1995. The transient population is composed of a large number of students who are likely to stay a limited period of time as renters. However, some couples decide to purchase property in Dover. As homeowners, they are more willing to contribute to improving the neighborhood, including its parks. The social homogeneity of the dog run advocates results from the overrepresentation of dog owners among gentrifiers. The active mobilization of upper middle class residents in favor of the Charles Park Association is also in keeping with what public space has represented for the gentrifiers for many decades, and particularly for the upper middle class residents who have been active in local groups. Their specific concern for public space stems from the low level of maintenance of parks in Dover due to insufficient public money. It is also linked to the visibility of “deviant” populations, such as prostitutes, homeless people, drug addicts, accommodated by half way houses, elderly people who live in nursing homes, and other clients of numerous social agencies: many of these groups stay in the parks for long hours. Their appearance, as well as behaviors, such as smoking; drinking; and loud, incoherent speech, makes them highly visible to the upper middle class residents, many of whom resent them.

The upper middle class gentrifiers’ ambivalence toward public spaces and the mixed population using them reveals itself in the recurrent discussions devoted to these topics in neighborhood associations, which repeatedly raise the interrelated issues of garbage and homeless people. As I was participating in a tour of Dover organized by a neighborhood association, another participant angrily pointed to an old Chinese woman who was looking for cans in the garbage lying on the street. The upper middle class gentrifiers’ interest in public space is particularly high when they come from the suburbs, where virtually no tradition of shared public space exists: this is the case of 14 of the 53 members of neighborhood associations I interviewed. In the suburbs, common spaces are scarce and reserved for cars. Having specific, bounded areas devoted to consumption, leisure, and housing, suburbanites tend not to pay attention to public spaces, unless they are used by a deviant population (Baumgartner 1988; Halle 1993). By contrast, in an inner-city neighborhood, residents walk more often and traverse a greater variety of spaces. Their concern results from the fact that public space epitomizes both their longing for the attractions of urban life and their fear of “others.” On the one hand, they appreciate going out to restaurants and having the possibility of running into other gentrifiers; on the other hand, these activities confront them with the danger of meeting deviant individuals. Thus, when I asked a 38-year-old accountant, whose husband is a lawyer, what she liked about Dover (where she moved 3 years ago from a suburban community), she immediately mentioned the stoops in front of her brownstone, where she can have a glass of wine and say hello to neighbors: “You would never do that in the suburbs. It's very lonely in the suburbs!” she said. Later during the interview, when I asked her about what she disliked about the neighborhood, she mentioned crime, loud African-American youth, and fear when walking back home late from the subway.

As a consequence of this concern, several neighborhood associations have progressively taken on the responsibility for maintenance of parks, thus, sometimes controlling access to them (one park is closed except for the annual neighborhood association picnic). They raised a significant amount of money, as the defenders of the dog run have done. The members of the neighborhood associations and of the Charles Park Association share the same socioeconomic profile (and often are the same individuals). As are most members of local formally organized groups in Dover, a majority of the residents who have led the Charles Park Association are White upper middle class residents, who have turned the association into a professionally run advocacy group that emphasizes expertise and fundraising (Skocpol 2003).

DOG OWNERS AND PUBLIC SPACE

The impact of animals in gentrifying neighborhoods is also symbolic. The symbolism may not have the violence of repressive policies directed toward homeless people, but nonetheless has real consequences. As Zukin (2009:47) observed about new retail in New York City, “the aesthetics of their offerings and atmosphere reinforce a sense of the neighborhood's creative cultural distinction.” Because dogs can be tools of distinction as much as objects of love, their presence and the practices related to them allow gentrifiers to inscribe specific values into their physical surroundings.

Ownership of particular dogs is an expression of “conspicuous consumption” (Veblen 2007). The price of a pure breed dog is around $1,000; and the “price of purchase” is often just the beginning. Wealthier dog owners incur many expenses, such as food, dog walkers, and other services such as veterinary care. As demographic data on pet ownership shows, between 2000 and 2004 the average household spending on pets rose by 18%, with increases of 17% for foods, 18% for services (such as grooming, boarding, and dog walking), and 38% for pet purchases (New Strategist Publications 2004). Unsurprisingly, the average expenditure increases with income and education (American Veterinary Medical Association 2006). Dogs make wealth visible, but also express a specific lifestyle. Pets, which move around within a small distance of their owners, are like “accessories,” such as clothes or jewelry; they reveal a specific habitus (Bourdieu 1986). This habitus also translates into accessories for animals, such as collars, leashes, outfits, and styles of grooming. More strikingly, the choice of breeds appears to be the choice of a body attitude that echoes the dog owners’habitus. In sharp contrast with the strength and aggressiveness valued by working-class dog owners (Anderson 1990), the upper middle class displays different values in their choice of dog breeds. One can project conspicuous elegance with the huge, long-legged Greyhounds and Great Danes, or sophisticated eccentricity with abundantly-haired Poodles and Airedales, or with the wrinkled faces of Bulldogs and Pugs. Miniscule animals, such as Yorkshire Terriers, Malteses, or Chihuahuas, provide minimalist chic while inspiring tender feelings. Labradors, Pyrenean dogs, Huskies, and Golden Retrievers embody beauty norms based on a distinguished simplicity. Such breeds (as well as fashionable mixed-breeds such as the Puggle, a mix of Pug and Beagle) are highly represented among the users of Charles Park, but none of those I spoke to had a Rottweiler, a Pit Bull, or a German Shepherd, which are all known for their aggression, the low socioeconomic status of their owners, and their protective qualities.

Dog owners visibly display their class-based values in gentrifying neighborhoods such as Dover. Because dogs have to be walked, dog owners intensively use public spaces (although they occasionally leave their pet to a dog walker, but primarily during workdays). Sidewalks, thus, are used as scenes to exhibit social distinction. On weekends, White upper middle class dog owners take repeated walks in the dog run and also through the main street in Dover—the street with the most expensive restaurants, a theater, and a jazz club. During the summer, they can stay outside on terraces, which often provide a bowl of water for pets. One café located near Charles Park has an openly pet friendly policy: its owner is an active supporter of the Charles Park Association. Three stores have become successful, in part by catering to people drawn to the dog run. The bakery (whose owner is a member of the board of the association) is located one block away. In addition to the four dog-walking companies that operate in Dover, one doggie-daycare company, which also offers a spa and doggie bed and breakfast, has a bus that runs every morning and returns in the evening. Twice a day, dog owners gather on the corner of a park situated in one of the most desirable areas of Dover, waiting for the bus’s precious cargo.

Dog owners’ consumption profiles are reflected in public space and, especially, in parks where dogs can run off-leash. One practical reason for the need for outdoor space is that exercised dogs are easier to manage in an urban environment. But the issue of public space is even more crucial for middle-class dog owners, because of the changing norms pertaining to the relationship between human beings and pets. Nast explains that dogs are no longer an entity—beside, but distinct from children—in the family (Nast 2006). Instead, many individuals consider their pets to be “companion animals” (Irvine 2004; Greenebaum 2004). Among the human feelings projected onto expensive but “priceless” (Zelizer 1981) dogs, one plays a crucial role: the responsibility to socialize them, not only tame them. I interviewed a TV journalist, who has two Labradors on which she spends $600 a month. This 30-year-old resident, recently divorced, who moved to Dover in 2002, explains, “I brought my youngest lab to a puppy training class and it was great. I highly recommend it. The puppies are all so cute and they teach you a lot about basics, potty training, how important socializing your dog is with people and other pooches and just what to expect with a puppy.”

Such “important socializing” is often marketed by companies that also provide dog walkers, daycare hiking, and B&Bs, like the one in Dover. The new norms are also spread through magazines and best selling books. The Hidden Life of Dogs (Thomas 1993) marked a break in the conceptualization of dogs insofar as that it theorized and legitimized the idea of a necessary collective socialization for dogs with other dogs and other human beings. The website of the well-known publishing house, Simon & Schuster, which published The Hidden Life in paperback in 1995, explains that the book provides “the simple and surprising answer to the question ‘What do dogs want most? Not food, not sex, but other dogs’.” This socialization is no longer limited to the acquisition of norms based on obedience or mastery of various tricks that will guarantee a harmonious (and potentially useful, for the owner) coexistence in the private sphere; it requires social integration into the larger group of pets and pet owners. From that perspective, dogs must be able to interact with other dogs and human beings and manage dynamic but socially controlled interactions.

Here again, the journalist's interview is telling. She conceives of learning as both a collective and an individual process. It requires training, but adapted to each dog's personality: “I think constant dog socialization and interaction is key to a well-behaved and adjusted dog. The more scenarios you can bring them to, the more places, people and pooches the better.”

THE COMMUNITY OF DOG OWNERS

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. REVIEW OF LITERATURE
  4. SETTING AND METHODOLOGY
  5. GENTRIFYING PETS?
  6. THE COMMUNITY OF DOG OWNERS
  7. CONCLUSION
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. REFERENCES

Inner-city neighborhoods tend to attract a specific population, one more attracted to living in a mixed community than retreating to a homogeneous community. At the same time, gentrifiers are also willing to impose their norms on urban spaces, which have been for many decades the domain of a low-income and even deviant population. I argue that animals help to manage these tensions. Anderson (1990) and Duneier and Molotch (1999) have analyzed the subtle ways by which people deal with racial and class conflicts on the streets; instead of analyzing interactions as they do, I focus on discourse. The visibility of dog-owners and the display of their specific social norms analyzed above contributes to the appropriation of public places characteristic of gentrifying neighborhoods. But dog runs do more than reflect a straightforward desire for homogeneity. Paradoxically, they also represent an opportunity to develop and diffuse a rhetoric based on “diversity.” I will show how the mobilization for the dog run in Dover resulted in a renewed commitment to “diversity,” a value that is central to gentrifiers but is understood as a specific constellation of exclusion and inclusion. In fact, claiming diversity for the neighborhood means both proximity to “others” and distancing from “others,” a celebration of “community” and an imposition of class-specific norms.

IN THE NAME OF “DIVERSITY”

I used documents produced by the Charles Park Association to explore how it developed a definition of the legitimate way of being a dog owner, relying on visions of what a “good neighbor” is and what a “good neighborhood” is. The association used a word that is central to gentrifiers’ identity: “diversity.” In most cases, as I asked my interviewees why they moved to Dover, I heard very similar answers. A consultant, who moved in 1987 with his wife, a lawyer, from a central and upscale neighbourhood next to Dover, explained: “It's a small community of very different people. […] People are different, age-wise, racially, ethnically. They are different educationally. They are different economically, with regard to their sexual orientation.” Another consultant, a woman married to a corporate manager, also a member of a neighborhood association whose website praises the diversity of Dover, said: “We wanted to live in the part of the city which could offer what we consider the best of the city, which was diversity, in all its flavors: diversity in terms of the age of people who live there, ethnic mix, the vibrancy of art, the homosexuals, the low-income housings, the empty-nesters.” Members of the dog run association express the same attraction to diversity, but it goes hand in hand with the defense of de facto exclusionary places. Showing how the dog run contributes to diversity, they can highlight their openness to “others,” while obscuring any power issues related to the coexistence of racially and socially distinct populations.

I will analyze this ambivalent rhetoric through the three different themes that pervade the rhetoric of the association as well as the commentaries by people who signed the petition for the dog run: “diversity,”“security,” and “business.” The first rests on one main argument: the dog run is a major contribution to the community as a whole. Several documents from the association published on the website, including a prospectus and two lists of arguments, develop this idea. As explained in the prospectus, the “value of the dog run” lies in the fact that it plays a role in “connecting people”: “The current dog run is a hub of activity for Dover residents—it is where friendships among dog guardians, regardless of age, income, or race, have been created, where couples have met, and where real estate and business deals have had their start.” The rhetoric of “diversity” relies heavily on its association with a density of social links and interactions. Very much consonant with Jane Jacobs's praise of heterogeneous inner-city neighborhoods like the Village, diversity as a core value structures the identity of Dover's supporters of the dog run. They use the word in association with other words or expressions such as “community,”“vibrant community,”“diverse community,” and “sense of community.” In keeping with what Modan (2007) described, Dover gentrifiers further reinforce the opposition between suburbia and mixed areas with other contrasts, like interaction versus individualism, public versus private, and social ties versus fears.

Defending dog runs allows Dover's gentrifiers to reinforce the relevance of such categories, which also structure the way they define themselves. Because a dog run obliges people to share a small place repeatedly and for relatively long periods of time, the dog run directly generates interactions that are likely to develop into friendships. Dogs are “social facilitators” (Messent 1983). Numerous petitioners as well as the prospectus repeat the following story in nearly the same words. A new Dover resident said, “To our delight we discovered Charles Park right across the street. There, not only did we find a convenient spot for our dog to run, but a wonderful arena to meet our neighbors and feel a part of what we discovered was not merely a neighborhood, but rather a vibrant community in the richest sense of that word. Within a few weeks, (…) we met more people than we had in the last five years we lived in B. ‘[a suburban community]’.”

Numerous letters mention the socializing virtue of the dog run. Although dogs are likely to facilitate “engagements among the unacquainted” (Goffman 1963:124–148), shifting dog-related conversation to more personal discussion is not an easy process (Robins et al. 1991). Still, dog run users consistently refer to the connections they develop at the dog run as “personal” or involving “friendship.” For these residents, there seems to be an automatic and self-evidently beneficial effect of animals on human relations. No conflict is ever mentioned. Some excerpts from the letters prove this point: “I find the park not only great for my dog but also somewhere to socialize and meet other friendly dog owners”; “…in a day and age where urban life has increasingly become impersonal, this allows strangers to meet and mingle and develop a sense of community”; “…it has fostered many long-standing friendships among the humans who accompany their dogs to the park”; “I’ve made many close friends in the neighborhood at the dog park.” Even more explicitly, one petitioner contends that “dog parks are fantastic community builders.”

Thus, the love of animals contributes to a broader commitment gentrifiers make to an active, tight-knit, urban community that stands in sharp contrast to the supposed anonymity, isolation, and homogeneity of the suburbs. Discourses about the dog run express a liberal attitude, which entails openness to ethnic and sexual minorities. The diversity that the Charles Park Association celebrates includes class, race, age, and religion. One document praises dog runs for being places “where people from different racial, religious, social, and economic backgrounds meet and recreate together with their pets.” Less often, at least in official documents, is sexual orientation mentioned. Only in a letter sent to the Park Department in May 2003, one leader of the association writes: “Our park […] is probably the most diverse pocket of activity you will ever see: Gay men walking their dogs, Hispanic kids playing baseball, Asian women practicing tai chi, white refugees from the suburbs planting flowers, African American toddlers tumbling about the tot lot, yuppie adults playing basketball, and homeless residents snoozing under the trees.”

At the same time as it invokes an egalitarian, community friendly vision, dog run supporters also deployed the “diversity” rhetoric to claim the particularistic rights of dog owners—as one element of the diverse neighborhood—to benefit from the park. The dog run is supposed to be good for the community and not only for dog owners. But pro-dog run residents also stress another—perhaps paradoxical—point at length in their letters: that dog owners pay taxes, and as such, are entitled to have a space adapted to their specific use. Like parents for whose children the neighborhood maintains playgrounds, “dog parents,” as one letter says, are also entitled to specific, dedicated space. The comparison between “parents” and, to use the association's expression, “dog guardians” is recurrent. This comparison does not yet rely on a “maternal” or merely emotional rhetoric, as the proportion of straight women among the dog run defenders might suggest. Probably because of their socioeconomic status, which reveals itself in a managerial tone, the letters in support of the dog run do not stress a gender divide: unlike the argument about the similarities between the oppression of women and the oppression of nonhuman animals (Adams 1990), women do not present themselves here as the quintessential dog owners.

The “embracing diversity” rhetoric relies on a specific perspective on differences that bear some similarities to the attitude of both progentrification groups and White progressive organizers studied by Berrey in Chicago (2005). The former use the diversity trope as a selling argument and claim that gentrification reduces the concentration of poverty and enhances diversity. The latter, who also advocate diversity, connect it to structural inequality; they nonetheless downplay the gap between White middle-class leaders and members and, thus, rarely question their relative positions of power. Contrary to progentrification groups, middle-class residents of Dover sometimes lament the escalation of real estate values and the displacement of minorities. They, nonetheless, never criticize gentrification as harshly as White progressive activists do in Chicago. Moreover, to them, diversity is never connected to the power structure. Differences are seen positively, as benefiting everybody. As Anderson explains in his history of affirmative action, “during the 1990s, diversity was the winner. Democrats understood that, as a political tactic, supporting diversity was less risky than endorsing affirmative action—it redefined the issue not as a preference for minorities or women but as a public good that supposedly utilized the potential of all citizens” (Anderson 2004:221).

The same positive idea of diversity pervades the discourse of the dog run's supporters in Dover. One petitioner explains that “it is a diverse community that is not fractured by the diversity but celebrates it and tries to work together as a family.” Dog run supporters almost never mention potential normative conflicts among the park users and among dog owners of different socioeconomic status or race, and when they do, it is only through heavy euphemism. Thus, the journalist goes on to explain to me the necessity to socialize her dogs and praise their good behavior by pointing to their hostility to breeds usually associated with aggression and minorities: “My dogs behave pretty well with other dogs. Harley, my oldest, does not care for aggressive breeds of dogs for some reason; so I keep an eye on him when we pass a German Shepherd or Pit Bull.”

Diversity is an inclusive notion based on openness. But as used by Dover gentrifiers, it obscures socioeconomic differentiations and inequalities that are at play in this gentrifying neighborhood. New residents recognize the right of the underprivileged to be there without raising the issue of the uneven distribution of socioeconomic resources. In other words, they praise the presence of low-income and non-White residents in their shared space, but never criticize the structural system of inequalities. In this way, the very rhetoric of diversity allows residents to draw social boundaries between themselves and long-time, less advantaged neighbors. Thus, such rhetoric legitimizes a particular use of public space entailing interlocking exclusion and inclusion. On the one hand, the championing of “diversity” expresses a desire for a park that low-income, middle-income, and upper middle class residents could use. Thus, they embrace, and partially materialize a vision of public space as “facilitator of civil order” (Orum and Neal 2010:4). On the other hand, upper middle class residents use the same language to assert their right to have a space specifically devoted to their needs. In doing this, they never explicitly define themselves in terms of economic status. Exclusionary practices work through symbolic phenomena, such as strong, although denied class-based, norms. Duneier and Molotch (1999) describe how middle-class White women living in the Village manage unwanted conversations with certain black street men, who use the women's dogs as an excuse to interact. What the authors call “interactional vandalism” challenges these women's “political liberalness.” Analyzing a similar social and urban environment, I show how the rhetoric about dogs and dog runs helps upper middle class gentrifiers negotiate the contradictions stemming from life in a mixed area.

SAFETY

The second theme of safety, with similarly ambivalent connotations, likewise contributes to social boundaries between upper middle class residents and “others.” Advocates describe the dog run as a safe place that reinforces safety for the whole neighborhood: in their view, because they have to be walked, dogs bring people onto the streets and into the park during the day and in the evening, thus, deterring crime and enhancing neighborhood security. One main argument of the association is that “Dog parks promote public safety,” considering that “Charles Park has historically been a magnet for crime and unsafe activity.” This is an ongoing theme that draws on Jane Jacobs’ rhetoric and her “eyes upon the street” argument. “Everyone knows each other and we say ‘hi’ to each other. There is a sense there that everyone looks out for each other,” one resident writes. Anderson develops the same thesis, noting that dogs might even help residents feel safer, and as a consequence, interact with unknown black residents (Anderson 1990:224).

At the same time, dog park supporters extensively developed an elaborate if euphemized way of speaking of people and behavior whose presence in public places is considered dangerous and is, thus, not wanted. Ultimately, the way the wealthier dog park supporters mobilized, advocated, and created the space worked to prevent homeless people from entering the dog park and implicitly denied the homeless the right to use public spaces. During a neighborhood association meeting, a resident asked a member of the Charles Park Association about the potential use of fountains by non-dog owners, implicitly the homeless, who otherwise do not have consistent access to water. She immediately dismissed the possibility, arguing that dogs do not like homeless people. And she added: “We don't want people who are not here for the dogs.” There might not be any antihomeless laws and campaigns in Dover. But, as Don Mitchell explains in his study on People's Park, we see how the exclusion of homeless people from parks contributes to defining who is “part of the public” (Mitchell 2003:134–136).

Clearly intersecting with the discourse of security, the themes of homeless people and “illegal behavior” were recurrent in the letters. Residents underline the positive impact of the influx of dog owners in Charles Park on displacing deviant populations. A retired engineer wrote: “Over the 15 years that I have lived here, that area of the park has been transformed from one that was dangerous, neglected, and infested with weeds, debris and illegal behavior, into one that is popular, safe, much cleaner, planted with flowers and filled with people enjoying themselves.” Three other letters explicitly mentioned this issue. One underlined the fact that the park “could be very easily lost to a criminal element,” pointing to “the homeless people that sleep there, and the drug dealers that hang out there.” Another, responding to an opponent complaining about the smell of urine, said that it “may very well be caused by some of the human residents of the Park rather than its canine visitors.” A couple mentioned “a decrease in undesirable activity.”

Some defenders of the dog run also expressed an element of wariness toward people who do not live in Dover, that is, residents who are not part of the community groups and are less likely to contribute their time or money. A member of the association explained during an interview: “It's a continuous education process, because you always have new people coming (…) from other places, S. [a predominantly black neighborhood]. (…) You just have to try to educate them. We ask them for money. If you’re going to use it… It is a privilege, not a right to have this dog run. This is not something that you should feel entitled to. You should contribute with good behavior, with money, with time in order to make this thing work. (…) We do all kind of things. We go up there on Saturday morning, talk to people.”

These sentences express a clear opposition between residents and nonresidents that overlaps a more subtle opposition between residents who pay for or get up early to maintain the dog run and, therefore, have the right to use it, and the other ones who should not feel “entitled to” use it. Here, we also see, as Berrey explained, how the rhetoric of “diversity” tends to take the place of a rhetoric of “rights” guaranteed to everyone, especially minorities.

BUSINESS

As mentioned, the documents of the Charles Park Association and the letters sent by the petitioners have three major themes: the dog run as both a mirror of and stimulant for a diverse neighborhood, the dog run as a way of promoting neighborhood safety, and the dog park as an incentive for business. In addition to diversity and security, dog park advocates strongly emphasize the third theme, business, in response to the economic context of this gentrifying neighborhood. The influx of wealthy newcomers has created untapped markets, and numerous developers who started investing in the area eventually realized that the dog run was becoming a selling point. In fact, many dog owners, facing difficulties in finding a condominium building that would allow pets, purchased apartments in some of the first new buildings located across the park. A major real estate booster in the Charles Park area became a generous donor to the dog run efforts, and other buildings began to adopt pet-friendly policies, further accelerating the arrival of dog owners. Initially viewing off-leash dogs running through a muddy plot of land as a left-over element of the old skid row, developers could have been formidable enemies; instead, as dog-owners began to stimulate the real estate market, large real estate holders became the best allies of the association. Retail shop owners followed suit. A major economic theme that emerges in descriptions of the value of the dog run in the Prospectus is “Investing in Growth.” This document devotes a paragraph to the way the “dog-owning community” would generate a “lucrative market for a wide range of products and services.” But the business argument is not solely a consequence of economic opportunity, or a growing consensus on gentrification among the supporters of the dog run. The intertwining of the three themes—social good via diversity, safety, and business—is an ongoing feature of American middle-class culture. Faith in the interrelation of good business and good citizenship has been a predominant concept since World War II (Cohen 2003). Works studying the upper middle class have particularly emphasized the way they link their privileged social status to moral obligations to the community (Camus-Vigué 2000; Lamont 1992), which for Dover residents goes hand in hand with an endorsement of diversity.

CONCLUSION

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. REVIEW OF LITERATURE
  4. SETTING AND METHODOLOGY
  5. GENTRIFYING PETS?
  6. THE COMMUNITY OF DOG OWNERS
  7. CONCLUSION
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. REFERENCES

The creation of dog runs is one expression of the restructuring of the urban environment in American cities. One might infer from this phenomenon that powerful people are appropriating public places in gentrifying neighborhoods. At Dover's dog run, social distinction is highly visible and strongly asserted and, as my survey shows, low-income as well as non-White dog owners almost never go there. However, while the socioeconomic boundaries developed via the dog run are particularly strong, they are inclusive with regards to sexual orientation. Heterosexual and family norms that prevailed in parks created in the 19th century are less predominant. In fact, their margins are no longer secret and disreputable places where gay people met and had brief sexual encounters (Chauncey 1994; Humphreys 1975). A significant number of gay males (but hardly any gay females) now use the dog run to openly meet and date in nonexclusively gay places, although complying with norms acceptable for straight people.

My research on the dog run brings another nuance to the debate about repressive tendencies operating in public spaces. To be sure, it is valuable to know how the government, corporations, and urban planners contribute to shaping a more exclusionary city, one that also provokes resistance. However, as my fieldwork on the upper middle class users of the dog run shows, power relations paradoxically intersect with a commitment to diversity. The residents are not merely hypocrites who praise openness while carefully protecting themselves from “others.” The social relationships in parks in gentrifying neighborhoods reveal both inclusion and exclusion, rhetoric and practices not so much contradictory as tightly intertwined and revealing a specific habitus. Confronting social and racial diversity while having a distinctive understanding of and limited desire for that diversity, middle-class people moving to gentrifying neighborhoods forge an identity that legitimizes their attitudes. Living in a diverse but desirable area results in a rhetoric that expresses both openness to others and the desire for exclusive spaces. It also results in concrete practices that noticeably embody their values in the neighborhood. Food habits may express this “cosmopolitan habitus” (Ley 1996:307) and a commitment to “authenticity” (Zukin 2008), which nonetheless rest on very specific standards for distinction (Johnston and Bauman 2007).

I argue that dog ownership and dog-related practices (economic consumption, walking, sociability) function similarly. Through animals, middle-class residents have developed exclusive public spaces in gentrifying areas. Still, even if they are tools of social distinction, far from lining up perfectly with the demographics of such neighborhoods, dogs and dog runs are praised as a new element of diversity (in addition to the rich and poor, the White, African-American, and Hispanic residents, the gay and heterosexual populations). The description of Dover as a dog-friendly neighborhood contributes to the legitimacy of the upper middle class gentrifiers’ identity as people who value “diversity.” This formulation allows gentrifiers to manage tensions and successfully draw strong boundaries, social and spatial, all the while expressing openness. In other words, praising diversity and openness to all simultaneously draws boundaries. Thus, social and spatial boundaries in gentrifying urban areas take on forms significantly different from those in the classic suburban model that relies on homogeneity and geographic segregation. This version of “diversity” implies strong interpersonal links and multiple interactions in public, that is, open places, but these are ultimately restricted to isolated peer groups. This meaning of diversity requires proximity to “others,” but plays out through controlled relationships that rarely question inequalities.

Acknowledgments

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. REVIEW OF LITERATURE
  4. SETTING AND METHODOLOGY
  5. GENTRIFYING PETS?
  6. THE COMMUNITY OF DOG OWNERS
  7. CONCLUSION
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. REFERENCES

This research was made possible by the Center for European Studies, Harvard University. For their stimulating comments, I would like to thank Jason Beckfield, Gary Bridge, Colin Jerolmack, Michèle Lamont, and Richard Lloyd. Special thanks to Noëlle Dupuy, Todd Shepard, and C.H. Romatowski for invaluable help.

Notes
  • 1

    Among many articles see, for example, Diane Brady and Christopher Palmeri, “The Pet Economy. Americans spend an astonishing $41 billion a year on their furry friends”, Business Week, August 6, 2007; James Vlahos, “Pill-Popping Pets”, New York Times, July 13, 2008.

  • 2

    In order to fully anonymise my data, I chose pseudonyms for the neighborhood (Dover) and the park (Charles Park).

  • 3

    This would justify the title of my article, if it were not for the role of straight women in the management of the dog run. The nod to Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men explains the somehow questionable gendered dimension of my title.

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  2. Abstract
  3. REVIEW OF LITERATURE
  4. SETTING AND METHODOLOGY
  5. GENTRIFYING PETS?
  6. THE COMMUNITY OF DOG OWNERS
  7. CONCLUSION
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. REFERENCES
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