Handbook of Gentrification Studies
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Handbook of Gentrification Studies

Edited by Loretta Lees and Martin Phillips

It is now over 50 years since the term ‘gentrification’ was first coined by the British urbanist Ruth Glass in 1964, in which time gentrification studies has become a subject in its own right. This Handbook, the first ever in gentrification studies, is a critical and authoritative assessment of the field. Although the Handbook does not seek to rehearse the classic literature on gentrification from the 1970s to the 1990s in detail, it is referred to in the new assessments of the field gathered in this volume. The original chapters offer an important dialogue between existing theory and new conceptualisations of gentrification for new times and new places, in many cases offering novel empirical evidence.
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Chapter 3: Beyond the elephant of gentrification: relational approaches to a chaotic problem

Freek de Haan


This chapter argues for a relational approach to looking at the chaotic problem of gentrification. It rejects attempts to generalise gentrification, to link local and global, and earlier work on complementarity in gentrification theorizing; rather, it makes the case for a more earthly gentrification embedded in relational approaches such as assemblage, actor-network and intra-action theory, which it is hoped might open up new epistemic and methodological avenues for research on gentrification. Different from traditional approaches to gentrification, these radically relational theories are not predicated on the ‘internal relations’ of parts, wholes, scales and their contradictory dialectics but on ‘relations of exteriority’, which have a life of their own, reducible to neither parts nor wholes. It suggests an epistemological strategy of ‘counter-actualization’ and applies it to some very familiar themes of gentrification.

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