AMST 2440 Lecture 21: Gentrification

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American Studies
AMST 2440
Suliman Osman

Gentrification Gentrification is probably the most charged term in contemporary urban studies. (Maybe “sprawl” beats it) A struggle to define it. What is it? Why does it happen? Is it a good or bad thing? Not just a scholarly debate. Only about 1000 or so scholarly books with the word “gentrification” in it. But over 3 million web pages. In some ways, scholarship hasn’t caught up to changing landscape on ground. What is Gentrification? • Debate over how to define it. Influx of wealthier residents into poorer district –> direct or indirect displacement. Direct displacement  eviction, harassment from landlord Indirect displacement  ex: social networks (church, extended family) disrupted Or too expensive for next gen. to stay near parents Or new boutiques  too expensive to shop Or feeling alienated, out of place Questions: What about when working-class renovate own homes? What if no displacement? (displacement is hard to measure) Does gentrification sometimes replace rather than displace? Does it matter what race or ethnicity either group is? (Ex: Are there African-American and Latino gentrifiers? New immigrants?) Short History of Gentrification 1960s – 1970s -- “Classic Gentrification” * “Gentrification” coined in 1964 by Ruth Glass English sociologist studies London. Majority of London  losing pop. to suburbs But Glass sees tiny countertrend  New middle-class (“gentry”) rehabbing old homes Islington – an early ‘hippy’ neighborhood * Americans adopt term “gentrification” in 1970s First sociologists discover term Newspapers first use “gentrification” in late 1970s In 1960s, people use other names - “brownstoning,” “sandblasting” “whitepainting” Am. cities experiencing massive flight to suburbs But small countertrend  Ex: Dupont Circle Capitol Hill Adams Morgan Young “pioneers” moved into poor inner-city areas Purchased and renovated old townhouses and Victorian homes. Subdivided townhouses  single-family Often displace poorer renters. Small-scale, grassroots Redlined areas - little gov. or bank funding available Renovators often used “sweat equity” “Stage Theory” Sociologists in 1970s first study “gentrification” Develop theoretical models (“first artists move in, than developers, etc…) Three stages Pioneer st
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