Big cities, such as London, New York, and Tokyo, once places where those on lower incomes would migrate to in search of some “social uplift”, that is personal and financial advancement, and a better life, are increasingly made up of people who are struggling to get by.
But contemporary London’s emergence as the headquarters of globalization has had widely differentiated impacts on class. On the one hand, it has paced the emergence of the West End. Many once hardscrabble neighborhoods – including Shoreditch, Islington, and Putney – have gentrified. Yet walk a bare half mile or less from the Thames River, particularly to the south, and you encounter many marginal, and often dismal, districts. These areas have not much benefited from the global economy and are inhabited largely by those who survive at the expanding bottom of the wage profile.