Gentrification

From UBC Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Gentrification

Overview

Gentrification, as originally defined by Ruth Glass in 1964, is the transformation of working class, centre-city residential neighbourhoods into middle class residents.[1] More recently, the study of gentrification has expanded to include a variety of theories about what gentrification is and what should be done about it.

The Rent Gap Theory of Gentrification

First described by Neil Smith in 1979, the rent gap refers to the difference between the current value income of a neighbourhood and its potential value under redevelopment. Both individuals and major developers are attracted to these areas, (such as the Downtown Eastside, or Grandview Woodlands) where they either renovate, demolish, or rebuild; thereby increasing rents and property values. [2]

The rent gap first emerges during the postwar period of suburbanization, as the North American middle class fled to inner cities for single detached homes in the suburbs. This has been referred as the white flight phenomena. The largely white middle classes benefited from subsidized home and business loans under government programs, such as the GI Bill.[3] In the inner city, industrial workers lived close to noxious industries, unable to make the leap to the middle class communities in the suburbs [4]..

As deindustrialization struck North America, the inner city became a place of disinvestment and poverty. Industrial decline brought calls for “urban renewal” and “renaissance,” based on attracting suburban workers back to the city centre. [5].

In the case of Detroit, Michigan’s Renaissance Centre, these schemes were successful at bringing white collar workers back into the downtown, but so overly generous that they did not produce significant benefits to residents, or even losing money [6].

As oil production peaked in North America in the 1970s, and globally shortly before the 2008 financial collapse, suburbanites caught in long commutes began to question the economic sense of purchasing large homes in far-flung suburbs. The suburbs became less attractive to young professionals, and the cities became increasingly attractive places to live[7].

Theories of new urban lifestyles (Florida) were picked up by municipalities seeking to attract “talent” to their cities (Peck). This public subsidy of white collar spaces of consumption constitute a form of “entrepreneurial” city governance, which characterizes neoliberal urban governance.[8].

Gentrficiation Now

As argued by Smith (1996), gentrification has departed from Glass’s definition. [9]. Glass’s definition focuses on the displacement of the working class and the modification of existing buildings to more elegant and upgraded housing. Now, gentrification embodies a much broader phenomenon that focuses on the changing of a community, ranging from renovation, brand new condominiums, new restaurants, and more commercialized spaces catering to the wealthier. Therefore, in summary, gentrification now consists of the following factors: reinvestment of capital, social upgrading due to the incoming of wealthier groups of people, landscape change, and the direct or indirect displacement of low-income groups. [10].


Current Example of Gentrification

In the 21st century gentrification has become a modern day phenomenon. The redevelopment of previously rundown inner city areas can be an area of controversy. There have been many times where people who are part of a lower social economic class who live on a piece of valuable land have been evicted in order for prime real-estate developers to come in and build modern luxurious homes to be sold at a profit to the ultra wealthy.

Gentrification in London

London has always been densely populated and the battle for space in one of the nicer neighbourhoods has been a long standing controversy. According to an article from the Independent UK [11] people living in the bottom ten percent in terms of relative deprivation are being pushed out of their homes and communities. Some of the proposed developments have caused current residents to convey their ideas in the form of peaceful protest, some celebrities such as Russell Brand have stepped in to assist the current lower class citizens living in areas where development has been confirmed. One particular development that Brand is helping fight is the "New Era Estate" which is backed by the American firm "Westbrook Partners".

Russell Brand is among the supporters of the New Era tenants' campaign. Photograph: Jules Annan/Barcroft Media

[12] Brands main goal is to help give a voice to people who are in these situations and have no one else to turn to because their local governments are failing to represent them.

Limiting Gentrification

Gentrification impacts the original working class inhabitants of an area. Moreover, instead of improving the social situation of those in the lower classes, it raises the living expenses and the housing prices. Gentrification also leads to social stratification.

Although in theory gentrification seems impossible to stop or prevent there seems to be several measures that impede its process. As articulated in "Are There Limits to Gentrification? The Contexts of Impeded Gentrification in Vancouver" there have been several proven factors that slow or even completely halt the process of gentrification. One of these factors include political mobilization which is best defined by formal and informal protest. Formal protest comes in the form of organized lobbying and community improvement while informal protest is demonstrated by illegal activities such as breaking windows. Government policy is another crucial factor and usually comes in the form of social housing. By providing social housing to citizens the government essentially takes away potential market properties from those looking to gentrify. Some other minor factors include access to financial centers (or downtown), proximity to industrial areas and ethnic makeup of community. [1]

References

  1. Glass, Ruth. Aspects of change. London, 1964.
  2. Smith, Neil. The new urban frontier: Gentrification and the revanchist city. Psychology Press, 1996.
  3. Hall, Peter. Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design Since 1880. John Wiley & Sons, 2014.
  4. Smith, Neil. The new urban frontier: Gentrification and the revanchist city. Psychology Press, 1996.
  5. Smith, Neil. The new urban frontier: Gentrification and the revanchist city. Psychology Press, 1996.
  6. Harvey, David. "From managerialism to entrepreneurialism: the transformation in urban governance in late capitalism." Geografiska Annaler. Series B. Human Geography (1989): 3-17.
  7. Smith, Neil. The new urban frontier: Gentrification and the revanchist city. Psychology Press, 1996.
  8. Harvey, David. "From managerialism to entrepreneurialism: the transformation in urban governance in late capitalism." Geografiska Annaler. Series B. Human Geography (1989): 3-17.
  9. Smith, N. (1996). The new urban frontier: gentrification and the revanchist city. London, UK: Psychology Press.
  10. Davidson, M. and Lees, L. (2005). New-build “gentrification” and London’s riverside renaissance, Environment and Planning A, 37, 1165 – 1190. doi:10.1068/a3739
  11. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/gentrification-pushing-some-of-the-poorest-members-of-society-out-of-their-homes-says-study-a6695926.html
  12. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/nov/16/new-era-tenants-fear-eviction-christmas