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.
As gentrification studies entered the C21st some authors proclaimed that gentrification had gone global and was now a generalised urban phenomenon. More recently a small number of urban geographers have become interested in investigating this claim using ideas from the supposedly ‘new’ comparative urbanism literature that has arisen in geography and beyond. Focusing on the relevance of this ‘new’ comparative urbanism for researching gentrification around the world, this chapter argues that the comparative urbanism literature is fashionable right now for a number of reasons, that it has good potential for a truly global gentrification studies, but that there is much theoretical, conceptual and especially methodological progress that needs to be made. There are also other issues to attend to, for in gentrification studies it is important to consider and resist the neglect and marginalization of those people being socially cleansed; that is, displaced from cities worldwide, not simply the neglect and marginalization of cities in the Global South in (northern) urban theory.
Michaela Benson and Emma Jackson
In this chapter, how a reconceptualization of class might reanimate scholarly engagements with gentrification and urban redevelopment theoretically, conceptually and methodologically is considered. This is done drawing on inspiration from contemporary feminist scholars of class who have put forward a dynamic approach to understanding class as producing inequality and injustice through the struggle over value. The chapter revisits the understandings of class that underpin studies of gentrification with a view to making the latter a more malleable and adaptable concept. It is argued that to understand planetary gentrification there is a need not only to critically evaluate the conditions through which knowledge of the urban has developed, but also to apply the same logic to the understandings of class that we mobilise within these.
This chapter investigates gentrification in one of the US’s most suburban cities – Los Angeles, a city where until recently few have discussed gentrification. It always seemed odd that a city as large, as powerful, as infamous, as controversial, and as ethnically, economically and culturally mixed as Los Angeles somehow slipped through the major gentrification debates of the 1980s and 90s altogether. The gentrification that is occurring in LA has been described as ‘gentle’ or ‘weak centred’. Zooming in on the neighbourhood of Silver Lake, northwest of Downtown LA, the chapter finds a gentrification that is trying to preserve some of the character of this neighbourhood but that the speed of change is escalating. Looking at Silver Lake’s walkable form, historic housing stock, and extensive history as an attractor for alternative types, it is argued that it is not surprising that new incomers (gentrifiers) are flocking to the neighbourhood today. But it is argued that a tipping point seems to have been reached moving the neighbourhood from social preservation into full blown gentrification.
In comparison to class much less has been written on ethnicity and gentrification. Ethnic minorities are often seen as the victims of gentrification, yet ethnicity is also marketed (for example, ethnic neighbourhoods) as a cosmopolitan gentrification. Whites displacing black or ethnic minority groups (often first or second generation immigrants) is common in US gentrification studies, but there are also studies of black, middle class gentrifiers. This chapter expands the discussion beyond the US to Norway, Mexico and elsewhere. It concludes that the ethnic dimension to gentrification is as yet under-theorised, that the role of ethnicity and/or ‘race’ in gentrification processes is often ambiguous, and that ethnic identifications may well be contradictory and multivalent. Engaging with the relationship between ethnicity and gentrification requires sensitivity towards the geographical and historical context of ethnic minorities’ positions.
This chapter seeks to foster greater reflection on the significance of landscape within the study of gentrification. It begins by highlighting claims that landscape is a central, even a defining, feature of gentrification. A feature that has arguably been taken-for-granted. Then four distinct understandings of landscape are identified and discussed: landscape as material/physical world; landscape as space of social life and social relations of power; landscape as a symbolic text or ways of seeing; and landscape as lived space. The chapter concludes that landscape, as much as gentrification, can be viewed as a 'congested and contested concept' and it is hence unsurprising that a range of tensions have surrounded the definition and employment of both of these; but tensions have often been used productively to drive both theory and praxis into new terrains.
This chapter examines the changing nature of the relationship between gentrification and the cultural economy in theory and practice, it also highlights a gap in debates about gentrification. Whilst the role of culture in the gentrification process has received much attention, the cultural economy has not. The gap stems from tendencies to instrumentalise culture, to reduce it to consumption, and to ignore its value(s) and the means of its production. The chapter focuses on a complex and sometimes misunderstood field, that of cultural production. The paradox that we encounter is that cultural workers and artists are often portrayed as both the causes and the victims of gentrification. An important step in the chapter’s argument is to broaden and contextualise debates about gentrification to make sense of this paradox. It argues that gentrification – drawing on its classical definition as displacement of former residential tenants – should also be further explored in relation to movements and displacements between manufacturing, office, retail and cultural sites.
Zhao Zhang and Shenjing He
In this chapter an all-encompassing approach is employed to provide an updated understanding of gentrification-induced displacement. After decades of theoretical exploration, gentrification-induced displacement is no longer treated purely as a side effect of gentrification in Euro-American cities, it is now seen to be a planetary process. The chapter looks at the shared global political economy behind this controversial form of socio-spatial transformation, but also its contextual factors, including countries’ institutional and economic frameworks. In addition, the shape, scale, form, and speed of gentrification-induced displacement is discussed, plus resistance to displacement. Institutionally constraining land and housing price speculation is put forward as one way of dealing with displacement, for example, taxation on land/housing speculation through legislation or intervening in speculation on state-owned land.
Melissa Fernández Arrigoitia
This chapter looks at the varied and precise causes, mechanisms and effects that can be attributed to social housing’s gentrification in diverse global landscapes. In many parts of the world, the privatization, demolition, reduction, replacement or transformation of social housing has become inseparable from processes of urban renewal and regeneration which enact the displacement or removal of lower-income groups from revalued city land in order to reach their goals of ‘middle-classification’. Mixed income policies have often been behind such programmes. Social housing is also of course, more than an instrument of policy. At its core, it is a lived experience of home and community. Its gentrification must therefore also be understood through the eyes of residents resisting these moves and proposing alternative logics of urban (and suburban, rural or peripheral) life. The chapter also looks at political resistance to the gentrification of public housing.