A new store starkly contrasts the landscape of Figueroa Street, lined with Hispanic/Latino shops (Source)

The Who’s Who on Two Accounts of Gentrification and Why We Should Believe Them

While researching further on the documented effects and first person accounts of the intricacies of gentrification, I found two starkly contrasting sources. In one, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation gives a detailed account about the establishment of a new, trendy coffee shop in Los Angeles’ Boyle Heights. This source goes into depth about how the coffee shop has become an omen or sorts, signifying rapid change soon to come. It aligns with my original thesis, which contends that gentrification is a largely negative phenomenon. The other, written by Jon Swartz of USA Today, gives a directly contrasting account, one about the positive effects that tech companies and their employees have to offer in low-income communities. Both have their merits, however true argumentative power lies in rhetorical appeals, as in ethos, logos, and pathos.

The first source, provided by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), offers pathos right off the bat, in its title: ‘We are in a war here’: Black and Latino residents fight gentrification in LA. This use of emotionally heavy language, war, encourages the reader to have specific emotions and mental imagery as they read the piece. The writer(s) want the reader to regard the subject as a very serious matter. They continue to use pathos through the beginning of the piece, using more emotionally loaded or imagery inducing words such as ‘firestorm’, ‘hell’, ‘battle’ and even ‘ugly’. Though typically not the most valued of rhetorical appeals, pathos can be very powerful in swaying audiences, especially in regards to anger. In this piece, the prevailing imagery the author(s) induce are that of conflict, fueled by frustration, anger, and fear. The use of pathos is powerful, but it is not the only rhetorical device used in the piece.

The CBC article also uses an extensive amount of ethos in the form of first-person accounts. Ethos refers to the author’s image and credibility, and although it is odd that a Canadian channel would report on LA news, the use of quotes and accounts from Boyle Heights residents establishes some credibility. The authors were also careful to obtain accounts from differing viewpoints and opinions on the issue of gentrification, as they have 5 accounts from residents, business owners, and scholars. Each account offered insight to the ongoings of Boyle Heights, ranging from expressions of frustration, fear, confusion, to even accounts of history.

The use of logos is most emphasized in nearly all forms of writing, though not every writer uses it. In the article written by the CBC, logos is used throughout in describing how gentrification occurs and why residents feel threatened by the initial premise of a new coffee shop. The article and the accounts within argue that a new coffee shop means more spaces for new businesses are for sale, and when new businesses come, old ones are pushed out. The new businesses attract new residents, which increase the cost of living, and therefore pushes old residents out. The use of logos in this manner, a linear argument compounded by first-person accounts was very powerful to me, and thus leads me to believe this article is the rhetorically stronger of the two.

In an article titled ‘The softer side of Silicon Valley’, author Jon Swartz uses a lot of pathos and imagery, in words like ‘nerd’ and ‘gripping’, wherein he describes how tech companies are having an effect on San Franciscan residents, in regards to gentrification. Such is how Swartz opens his discussion, in order to have the reader generate a mental image of how Swartz claims tech employees ‘truly’ are. Although Swartz mainly used pathos in his opening, it is strong enough to cause readers to alter their preexisting ideas about certain players in the game that is gentrification. Swartz mainly uses ethos in his article in the form of a few first person accounts and figures. The presiding argument the author presents is that tech companies and their employees can be a boon for low-income residents. Swartz uses quotes from CEOs and higher-ups from different companies in the Bay Area to establish credibility as well as argue his standpoint, as different tech companies have been donating large sums to charities and organizations, as well as launching initiatives to help lower-income residents secure careers in companies such as Microsoft and LinkedIn.

Swartz uses logos very little in his article. Mainly, he seeks to argue that tech companies are not wholly detrimental to their surrounding areas, and in fact can give a lot back to communities in need. Though his arguments have merit, the pervasive use of all three devices in the first article leads me to believe it is the most sound in terms of rhetoric.

Swartz, J. (2014, May 9). The softer side of Silicon Valley. USA Today, p. 02A. Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com.jpllnet.sfsu.edu/apps/doc/A370318840/OVIC?u=csusf&xid=6db656b2

‘We are in a war here’: Black and Latino residents fight gentrification in L.A. (2017, November 4). The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com.jpllnet.sfsu.edu/apps/doc/A513411836/OVIC?u=csusf&xid=ac14a469

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