Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Prof. Scott Schaffer


The main purpose of this work is to explain how urban authenticity has changed as a result of different social agents taking control of urban production. I will establish a framework of authenticity by combining the ideas of William Sewell’s theory of structure, Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialism, Erich Fromm’s theory of freedom, Henri Lefebvre’s idea of the ‘total man’, and Herbert Marcuse’s theory of an advanced capitalist form of production. This framework of authenticity will allow me to argue that urban authenticity has been recently co-opted by multinational developers, real estate commodity, private corporations, and entrepreneurial municipal governments. The starting point for this analysis will be the early stage of gentrification that took place during the 1960s and end with an interpretation of the recent role Business Improvement Areas have in the shaping of urban authenticity. This explanation of urban authenticity intends to shed some light on how citizens’ representation of the city is imposed by external agents.