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Keywords:

  • consumption;
  • identity;
  • historic preservation;
  • housing;
  • production of locality;
  • gentrification

Abstract

This paper examines the construction of identity and lifestyle through consumption practices associated with the restoration of humble early 20th century bungalows in Southern California. Homeowners engage in the historic preservation of their homes, endowing them with agency, and reveal in narratives personal transformation of identity and lifestyle. As preservationists they turn their experiences of private consumption into civic activism, collectively constructing local preservationist cosmologies with which to inspire and justify their advocacy of exclusionary aesthetic tactics in the public realm. Although preservation homeowners invoke legal protections to transform the appearance of multiethnic, multiclass localities, they also engage in educational outreach to win converts and mitigate the effects of gentrification in the continuing restructuring of older suburban landscapes.