The bottom-up place branding of a neighborhood: analyzing a case of selective empowerment

Alessandro Gerosa, Maria Tartari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article analyzes the entanglement of social impacts of bottom-up urban branding processes on local hyperdiverse communities, through an ethnography of a neighborhood of Milan recently named by a group of residents as “NoLo.” Indeed, existing literature has broadly investigated urban rebranding as a tool used by policy makers to foster social change and economic capital, imposing top-down transformations. Nevertheless, a gap in the bottom-up place rebranding processes exists. We inspect it through the aforementioned case study and by combining place branding literature, the loss of place identity and theories on empowerment. Empirically, we analyze the socioeconomic processes and the actors that enabled the rebranding, discussing the positive externalities and the criticalities in terms of marginalization of weaker social groups and cultural hegemony. As for the theory, we contribute to the literature arguing that a bottom-up process is not enough to avoid a loss of place identity, as it can lead to selective empowerment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSpace and Culture
Early online date23 Jul 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Jul 2021


  • bottom-up
  • loss of place identity
  • selective empowerment
  • social exclusion
  • urban branding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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