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 27: Self renovating neighbourhoods as an alternative to gentrification or decline

Jess Steele


This chapter looks at what critical geographers have called ‘false choice urbanism’, the destructive choice that neighbourhoods are offered between ‘gentrification or decline’, a choice that has become ‘common sense’ both in the urban regeneration field and more widely. In critiquing this false choice, the chapter makes clear that we need an alternative to it. It reviews some of the alternatives from the gentrification literature and beyond, including the decommodification of housing, urban commons, etc; but self renovating neighbourhoods are put forward as a better solution that involves collaborative action for common and mutual good. The chapter argues for taking the neighbourhood more seriously as a site for social good and economic opportunity, both empirically right now and normatively for the future. This chapter makes clear that genuine alternatives to gentrification (and decline) are both imaginable and emerging.

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