Making a Music City: The Commodification of Culture in Toronto's Urban Redevelopment, Tensions between Use-Value and Exchange-Value, and the Counterproductive Treatment of Alternative Cultures within Municipal Legal Frameworks
Sara Ross, “Making a Music City: The Commodification of Culture in Toronto’s Urban Redevelopment, Tensions between Use-Value and Exchange-Value, and the Counterproductive Treatment of Alternative Cultures within Municipal Legal Frameworks”, (Fall 2017) vol. 27 Journal of Law and Social Policy.
50 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2016 Last revised: 25 Jul 2017
Date Written: March 28, 2016
A survey of some of Toronto’s culture-based strategies for rejuvenation and redevelopment reveal a problematic focus placed on exchange-value over use-value and community cultural wealth. Two particular effects have been noted and will be explored in the following pages: (1) the displacement of certain kinds of venues and their original attendees to the detriment of preserving urban intangible cultural heritage and high use-value generated in particular spaces of community cultural wealth by cultural and subcultural groups in order to better harness the exchange-value of a place through either the commodification of the existing space, which renders it less accessible to previous attendees, or through a replacement of the existing space with a venue better designed for profit maximization; and (2) the disjunctive nature of creative city planning initiatives and frameworks in the context of other municipal policy and planning documents that can ultimately deploy conflicting strategies, by-laws, policies, and so on, that block or snuff out the very cultural initiatives desired — or, as nightlife and nighttime culture scholars have suggested, simultaneously deregulate and re-regulate these subversive initiatives and transgressive spaces. This paper will undertake a discussion of the role that the commodification of culture, as a generator of exchange-value, plays in this context, especially in relation to the disjunctive and unequal results that occur on the ground as a result of creative city and culture-led regeneration legislation, policies, and strategies, and why this matters. It will look at the commodification of culture and the reification of “authenticity” in relation to spaces of community cultural wealth and intangible cultural heritage where, even if these spaces carry a high use-value for those who have generated culture within a space, this use-value may be trumped by the exchange-value that tempts developers to capitalize on the space.
Keywords: Critical Legal Studies, Property Law, Intangible Cultural Heritage
JEL Classification: K11. K33, K20
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation