Gentrification is sociologically important because it is a phenomenon that occurs when a working class neighborhood undergoes change due to an influx of wealthier residents. Communities undergoing gentrification often experience radical change that affects every aspect of the community. This changes the way that members of a community interact. People from different economic classes with different interests and values now live in close proximity, which causes tensions within the community. The character of the community, made up of traditions that create a unique culture often comes into contention as these values often differ from the changes that gentifiers wish to implement. People become unhappy, because as the neighborhood changes, it may fail to meet the needs of its residents. A blogger in New York expresses her frustration in this changes, in this blog post, because she feels like the youth in the neighborhood are punished in the community’s attempts to become more upscale. Gentrification however, does include positive aspects. Gentrification can revitalize a community and help provide necessary change. The article “Two Cheers for Gentrification,” found that improvements to schools and other community events were made, that benefit all members of the community.
After witnessing gentrification in my neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods, I became interested in how and why gentrification occurs. Why does gentrification occur in some neighborhoods and not others? What are some of the attributes of a neighborhood that makes it attractive to gentrifiers? Gentrification of a neighborhood is often accompanied by an economic shift that changes the neighborhood from a poor, working class environment to a more affluent setting. Due to this economic increase, there is often support by the local government to gentrify. How big of a role does the local government play in gentrification, or does it happen independently of the government? Do the original residents suffer as a result of the economic increase, or do they benefit? To what degree are residents displaced and pushed out in order to make room for more affluent gentifiers and their businesses? Do better-educated and wealthier gentifers who have government support force change upon the community? How can original residents stop change they oppose in their communities from occurring? Do communities take it upon themselves to gentrify or is it all a result of outside forces? What effect does gentrification have on the original residents? What types of demographic changes occur in a community during gentrification? Does the community become more diverse or homogeneous? What other changes does gentrification bring to a neighborhood? Does gentrification make neighborhoods safer and decrease crime? Can gentrification upturn schools, public parks and other community aspects in the neighborhood?
My hypothesis for this topic: “ Gentrification is a negative experience for a neighborhood because it forces unwanted change upon a community.
An alternative hypothesis: Gentrification ultimately harms the current residents because it forces change upon the neighborhood, which destroys the community’s unique identity and only provides minimal benefits that do not outweigh the costs.
An additional hypothesis: Gentrification may provide benefits, but it is still negative for a community, because it forces change, often against the will of the original citizens and many of the benefits are not applicable to the original residents because they are displaced by new residents.
1. Auger , Deborah . “The Politics of Revitalization in Gentrifying Neighborhoods The Case of Boston’s South End.” Journal of the American Planning Association. no. 4 (1979): 525-522.
2. Byrne, J. Peter. “Two Cheers for Gentrification.” Howard Law Journal . (2003): 405-432.
3. Freeman, Lance, and Braconi Frank . “Gentrification and Displacement New York City in the 1990s.”Journal of the American Planning Association. no. 1 (2004): 39-52.
4. McDonald, Scott. “Does Gentrification Affect Crime Rates?.” University of Chicago Press: Crime and Justice. (1986): 163-201.
5. Sumka, Howard. “Neighborhood Revitalization and Displacement: A Review of the Evidence.” Journal of the American Planning Association. no. 4 (1979): 480-487.