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CONSUMING AUTHENTICITY

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Alternative consumption practices often lead to the creation of entrepreneurial spaces like restaurants and bars, and to the resurgence of farmers' markets, offering urban consumers a safe and comfortable place to 'perform' difference from mainstream norms. These spaces fabricate an aura of authenticity based on the history of the area or the back story of their products, and capitalize on the tastes of their young, alternative clientele. This vision gradually attracts media attention and a broader consumer base, followed by larger stores and real estate developers, leading to hip neighborhoods with luxury housing, aka gentrification. Whether the specific discourse of consumption is based on distinction or inclusion, alternative consumers are not so innocent agents of change. Their desire for alternative foods, both gourmet and organic, and for 'middle class' shopping areas encourages a dynamic of urban redevelopment that displaces working-class and ethnic minority consumers.
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Keywords: authenticity; consumption; food; gentrification; historic preservation; shopping

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 September 2008

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