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The Definition of Gentrification, Its Process, Causes and Effects on Society

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Gentrification, as a process is one which is seen in many westernised cities and large towns where there is an abundance of cheap and easily developable land. As a planning process it is often mired in controversy due to the nature of its application and past examples.

Definition and processes:

Gentrification is often defined as a localised shift in the demographic, social and economic composition of a particular area, which is often coupled with increased land and property prices and the construction of new developments such as high-end residential spaces and upmarket retail units such as boutique stores, prestigious bistros and coffee houses (Lee’s, 2008). One of the key signifiers of a gentrified area is its localised demographics which are often comprised of professional, wealthy and young couples, often without children, ‘Yuppies’ (Smith, 1996). Early gentrified areas often attract Boheme-like communities, who have a desire to live in a ‘unique’ setting, however these communities are often displaced either voluntarily or involuntarily due to economic disparity and image or identity issues with the space. The reasoning for such a distinct population in gentrified areas is the pricing of housing, often out of reach for the average ‘blue collar’ worker, and the desirable lifestyle that is often associated with areas that have the gentrified ‘image’ (Gonzalez, 2012).

Causes and effects:

Many causes have been attributed to the increase of gentrification and the gradual increase and expansion of the economically mobile middle class, with much research being built on the foundation of Palen and London (1984). First and foremost, a view from an economic lens is used to examine the economic conditions of those who often desire to live in gentrified areas. In developed nations, there has been a surge in the rise of the professional middle class, usually employed in financial and business sectors, this portion of society is highly economically mobile and has significant disposable income. Many duel income professional couples seek to live in areas which are considered ‘desirable’ and well connected. More recently there has been a shift in the desires of the middle class and this has been coupled with a renewed re-urbanisation thanks in part to the somewhat decline of the pull of the suburbs. This coupled with the fact that most gentrification occurs in urban settings has led to a gentrification ‘boom’ in the past two decades and is set to continue with more developments being built not only in the west but even in parts of Asia and North Africa, as the portion of middle class continues to grow globally (Smith, 2002).

There are many ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ that the process of gentrification creates, often due to the selective demographic that can afford to live in gentrified areas. It is critical to examine who occupied the space before any development was underway, often in many cases of gentrification, it is usually cheap and undesirable land that is purchased at a low price and is then converted into desirable living space, therefore anyone occupying the land previously would often find themselves being priced out of the area by increasing living costs and in some cases, failure to integrate with the new population. This can be seen quite extensively in the London Dockland development in which many of the areas pre-existing residents were priced out of the area and in some cases ‘bought-out’ by the LDDC. These negative effects in turn can lead to localised homelessness due to lack of affordable housing and the eventual homogenisation of the community due to the specific economic and social requirements of living in a gentrified space (Chum, 2014). On the other hand, gentrification can often lead to significant benefits for its host area such as a reduction in crime and similar antisocial behaviours and a decrease of the strain in which the area places on local infrastructure such as policing and welfare systems (Chaskin, 2012). The local economy often thrives upon the arrival of gentrification with the benefits of an extremely wealthy demographic being passed onto local businesses, which are often non-large corporation owned and therefore any revenue is often kept in the localised economy. From these factors, it is clear that there is an economic class based divide on those who benefit from Gentrification, most often the wealthy and professionally employed middle class, and those who suffer, more likely to be the lower working classes who do not have the economic mobility to be able to afford living in a gentrified area (Shaw, 2015).

Spatial spread and key signifiers:

Geographically, gentrification can often be placed in one of many models which map the likely candidates for gentrification due to the somewhat predictable nature of the process. Some of the key geographical signifiers of an area likely to become gentrified are: The setting of an area, strongly tied to its urban or rural status. For example, urban areas are usually far more likely to be gentrified due to their strong travel links and already pre-existing job market, this ties in strongly with the professional demographic that usually occupies gentrified areas and their need for good travel links to their places of employment (Lee’s, 2008). Another key signifier of an area that is likely to be gentrified is the spaces overall identity and aesthetic appeal, this again ties in strongly with the nature of those who have a strong desire to live in gentrified areas, many of whom are usually professionally employed in the creative industries such as artists and writers, they therefore, have a desire to live in an area with a high degree of identity or ‘niche’ appeal.

Gentrification is on the rise globally and many argue that it will continue to drive a wedge between the social classes that both benefit and suffer from the impacts and effects of gentrification. However with the rise and homogenisation of the economically mobile middle class, many argue that gentrified areas are the future of human living and spatial relation.

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The Definition of Gentrification, Its Process, Causes and Effects on Society. (2018, October 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 29, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-definition-of-gentrification-its-process-causes-and-effects-on-society/
“The Definition of Gentrification, Its Process, Causes and Effects on Society.” GradesFixer, 16 Oct. 2018, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-definition-of-gentrification-its-process-causes-and-effects-on-society/
The Definition of Gentrification, Its Process, Causes and Effects on Society. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-definition-of-gentrification-its-process-causes-and-effects-on-society/> [Accessed 29 Sept. 2022].
The Definition of Gentrification, Its Process, Causes and Effects on Society [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Oct 16 [cited 2022 Sept 29]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-definition-of-gentrification-its-process-causes-and-effects-on-society/
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