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Worth the wait and hype? Gentrification, anxiety, and the hipster geographies of boutique ice cream

Authors: Bryan Mark*, York University
Topics: Urban Geography, Cultural Geography
Keywords: gentrification, anxiety, FoMO, Instagram, hipster
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Tracing urban cultural change within the Lower Ossington neighbourhood located in downtown Toronto, this research examines the micro-level spatial practices of ice cream retail and its relationship to the urban geographies of gentrification. Interrogating the subjectivities and experiences of an independent merchant, its customers, and workers, this case study examines overlapping processes of new urban retail, anxiety, and social media shaping socio-spatial dimensions of hipster culture. In addition to retail-based ethnography and semi-structured interviewing, a netnography of one-hundred ‘top’ Instagram images are
interpreted to unpack how social media users act as ‘visual investors’ in both the private and public image of retail gentrification. The pervasiveness and persuasiveness of Instagram foodie images filters the conspicuous cultural consumption of gentrification through an affective lens that stokes the fear of missing out (FoMO), which helps spatialize the production of retail lineups.The enigmatic rise of urban lineup culture connects the worthiness of boutique ice cream with the hype of social media to reshape visions of the urban good life around entitlement to an ‘anxiety-free’ social media lifestyle.

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