Fitzroy as a post-industrial frontier

Post-Industrial Frontiers

The suburb of Fitzroy may not be one of the most significant nodes in the globalised world but in a similar way to other inner city districts of Melbourne and elsewhere it does have significant symbolic engagements with the world. Because it is Melbourne's oldest suburb (and thus richly historically layered) and because of its recent history as a working class industrial suburb (this in particular) means that Fitzroy has small histories that do resonate in some of the mainstay globalisation debates.

Fitzroy is one miniature stage within a networked global theatre. And the play is perchance a reflection upon the theatre itself.

Globalisation discourse dances around the totems of immigration, corporatisation, gentrification (through the new middle-class), the environment, global civil society and the broader concerns of the post-industrialisation of the major Western economies. Corporations are understood as the great pariah in the globalisation debate and post-industrialisation produces a throng of knowledge workers who cram the cafes of the gentrified inner cities. [1]

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Gentrification in Fitzroy

Fitzroy is the archetype of a post-industrial Australian suburb. As Manual Castells, the Economic Geographer Kevin O'Connor, and a plethora of other authors argue, post-industrialism is the underlying catalyst for the present globalisation process.[1]

Inner city Australian communities are experiencing rapid gentrification, closing factories, rising rents and property values, and the appropriation of the working class culture that originally defined the suburbs. This is forcing out many of the long-term residents in favour of an eclectic mix of wealth distribution, lifestyles, and cultures.

Many claim that Australia is now being defined less and less by our historically definitive rural regions (as well as the great material and social egalitarianism of our post-war middle suburbs) and increasingly (for better or worse) by the culture of our inner cities, the fringes of our cities, and our bay-side towns. [2]

These changes can in part be linked to some of the major structural changes that are understood as globalisation. For instance, Fitzroy is a suburb where the factories that used to make clothes and confectionary now house the apartments of the new middle classes.[3] This is part of a larger global trend in developed countries where the majority of the workforce has shifted from the manufacturing industries into the service industries.[4]

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