Trouble in Paradise: Change, Survival, and Dignity in the Amenity-Rich Rural West - Columbus, Ohio & Online

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This talk focuses on the rural Washington community of “Paradise Valley,” whose economic bases in mining, ranching, and logging declined by the end of the 20th Century. Recently economic development has focused on amenity-based tourism and second-home ownership, as well as attracting wealthy in-migrants. Job growth has been concentrated in construction and service sectors, particularly low-paid, part-time, and seasonal jobs in hospitality, retail, and food services. The community has changed from a relatively homogenous population of working-class residents to a more diverse and divided community. The talk explores outcomes of these changes, including gentrification and housing shortages, un- and under-employment, and a social divide in which the community’s long-time and working-class residents are marginalized. I explore these social consequences of amenity-based development, illustrating the ways in which the social divide is reproduced and the gradual disenfranchisement of those with roots in earlier social and economic systems in the valley, focusing on the changing meanings and uses of different types of symbolic capital.