community as a brand


Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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10 Responses

  1. Avatar Will says:

    Put this up on the main page – it’s way too long for “off the cuff.”Report

  2. Avatar Joseph FM says:

    But people do think this way, they just don’t realize it necessarily. That’s the problem, we’re all living inside corporatism to the point that we don’t even see it. Property rights are one thing, fixating on market values of property to facilitate debt financing (which is what got us in this mess, and continues to skew how we understand the economy) is another thing entirely. If you can make your mortgage, it doesn’t matter what the market value of your house is – its value comes from being your home. Does he overstate the brand thing? Somewhat, but he lived in a “trendy neighborhood” (Park Slope), and these places do indeed function as brands – as the opening anecdote about the response to his mugging illustrates.

    To give another, here I live in Florida (though I’m actually north moving this week to attend grad school at Florida State), there are these whole huge eyesore “luxury” condo towers that are nearly empty, because they were built solely to support real estate speculation. Hardly anyone bought the units intending to actually live there. Beyond that, whole neighborhoods were razed to build upscale malls. Yes, they were blighted and impoverished, but building it resulted not in solving the problem, but simply in displacing the residents to the inner suburbs, which now have increasing problems with gang violence.

    So yes, he overstates things sometimes. But not by as much as we’d like to think.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

      Fair points, Joseph. And maybe I’m simply operating from a different vantage point, one with a great deal less money or trendiness. I’m sure plenty of people do think this way, but I don’t think it’s at the root of the issue, and probably Rushkoff goes into this in much, much greater depth in his book, which I still haven’t read.Report

  3. Avatar Kyle R. Cupp says:

    I’m not sure that many people think of their community as a brand, but I can see brand being a motivating factor in someone’s choice of where to live, just as brand is a motivating factor in what cars and clothes people buy.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

      True, for some people living somewhere trendy or “branded” may matter. Then again, there’s no accounting for taste. I prefer living in close-knit, walkable places, and I really do think that car-culture has unwound some of the better aspects of our communities. I think commutes, in fact, have done more to unravel “place” than thinking like a corporation has.Report

  4. Avatar Bob says:

    “…but I think I’ve retreated in many of my localist tendencies to a position which can be largely summed up with the phrase, all that glimmers is not gold.”

    That sounds right. I never understood its allure, but more importantly, for me, I see it as myth.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

      I think it’s much better to focus on neighborhoods and on the institutions of a community – its schools, its business, etc. – than focusing on the somewhat more abstract and often Utopian vision of localism. I think localism can be a good starting-point but one has to realize all the downsides of local communities as well.Report

  5. Avatar Elizabeth says:

    “And who thinks about their community as a “brand”? Unless you’re being paid to promote tourism or business growth, you probably think of your community as a community, or a town, or a city, or whatever.”

    What he gets into re: this thought in more detail in the book is the way people, when confronted with crime in their communities, or blighted houses, or whatever other pestilence, get concerned first and foremost with what it will do to their property values (i.e., protecting the “brand” of their community) … it makes more sense in relation to the rest of the book. Rushkoff can be overzealous, but this was one of the points where I actually think he wasn’t at all …Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

      Elizabeth – honestly I think this is more a matter of class-differences. I simply don’t live around very many property-owners and live in a neighborhood that would actually probably really appeal to Rushkoff. So maybe I’m just less-jaded.Report