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CSSH and MiReKoc seminar: "Yuppieland Coffee in the City" by Jan Rath

Author: MiReKoc

 

Yuppieland — Coffee in the City
Jan Rath
Department of Sociology, Center for Urban Studies, University of Amsterdam
www.janrath.com 
The transformation of the manufacturing economy to the—what Alan J. Scott would 
label—cognitive-creative economy, and the concomitant concentration of high-skilled 
professionals in urban centers has led to the proliferation of new forms of urbanism. 
Today’s urban professionals tend to have an individualist outlook on the world and 
cherish aesthetics, creativity and entrepreneurialism. In an increasingly volatile urban 
environment, they develop their own, quasi-autonomous work and life trajectories 
and display hipster-like life-styles that allow them to distinguish themselves from 
significant others. But they are, at the same time, continuously seeking for 
connection and confirmation—either on site or in the virtual world. 
New type of urbanism becomes visible and palpable in various urban scenes, for 
example at farmer’s markets, in gyms, hotel lounges, pop-up stores, and—in this 
particular case—in specialty coffee bars. These scenes, then, are often associated 
with gentrification processes and epitomize the economic, socio-demographic and 
cultural changes in urban milieus. Interestingly enough, these phenomena can be 
observed in numerous urban centers, including New York, London and Amsterdam, 
but also in Shanghai, Cape Town and Istanbul. As for the latter, anyone strolling 
through Cihangir, Moda, Galata, Tophane or, more recently, Karaköy cannot escape 
witnessing this.
These rapid developments raise various questions. Which structural determinants 
are producing the proliferation of hipsterful urbanism in general and the sprouting of 
specialty coffee bars in particular? What type of scenes are emerging in terms of 
ambiance and array of products, activities, and the identity and relationships of the 
participants. What can we say about the interrelationship between young urban 
professionals, individualism, distinction, and connection? And to what extent are we 
observing general processes to be found in any postindustrial city, or locally-specific 
processes?

Name: Jan Rath, Department of Sociology, Center for Urban Studies, University of Amsterdam, www.janrath.com 

Title: Yuppieland — Coffee in the City

Abstract: The transformation of the manufacturing economy to the—what Alan J. Scott would 
label—cognitive-creative economy, and the concomitant concentration of high-skilled 
professionals in urban centers has led to the proliferation of new forms of urbanism. 
Today’s urban professionals tend to have an individualist outlook on the world and 
cherish aesthetics, creativity and entrepreneurialism. In an increasingly volatile urban 
environment, they develop their own, quasi-autonomous work and life trajectories 
and display hipster-like life-styles that allow them to distinguish themselves from 
significant others. But they are, at the same time, continuously seeking for 
connection and confirmation—either on site or in the virtual world. 
New type of urbanism becomes visible and palpable in various urban scenes, for 
example at farmer’s markets, in gyms, hotel lounges, pop-up stores, and—in this 
particular case—in specialty coffee bars. These scenes, then, are often associated 
with gentrification processes and epitomize the economic, socio-demographic and 
cultural changes in urban milieus. Interestingly enough, these phenomena can be 
observed in numerous urban centers, including New York, London and Amsterdam, 
but also in Shanghai, Cape Town and Istanbul. As for the latter, anyone strolling 
through Cihangir, Moda, Galata, Tophane or, more recently, Karaköy cannot escape 
witnessing this.
These rapid developments raise various questions. Which structural determinants 
are producing the proliferation of hipsterful urbanism in general and the sprouting of 
specialty coffee bars in particular? What type of scenes are emerging in terms of 
ambiance and array of products, activities, and the identity and relationships of the 
participants. What can we say about the interrelationship between young urban 
professionals, individualism, distinction, and connection? And to what extent are we 
observing general processes to be found in any postindustrial city, or locally-specific 
processes?