Gentrification has no single interpretation; there are anthropological, sociocultural, Marxist, and many other interpretations, all of which have the potential to exist. However, if one tries to describe the concepts, gentrification is a change in the property system when a more prosperous group replaces the poorer groups and invests in the territory (Lees & Phillips, 2018). Thus, the area’s development follows the new needs of the higher-income group. While some urban planners argue that gentrification is highly beneficial, others argue that it often leads to detrimental social consequences, such as racial displacement and loss of cultural diversity. Hence, it is essential to establish whether gentrification is another form of segregation.
My Position and Arguments
However, gentrification refers to the process of self-organization of the population. It does not always proceed with a change in property, but it necessarily occurs with a change in the social composition of the inhabitants (Lees & Phillips, 2018). Gentrification is often initiated not by the wealthiest groups of the population but by those with a high social and cultural status. Specifically, these groups bring newness to the urban way of life and city perceptions. Frequently impoverished neighborhoods populated by migrants begin to attract artists and small business representatives of those called the creative class because of their population’s diversity of lifestyles (Lees & Phillips, 2018). Thus, the area gradually changes its reputation and becomes attractive to the middle and even large bourgeoisie. Accordingly, cultural and social development occurs in such neighborhoods. In this way, people can join in the cultural progress of the state.
As confirmation, it can be noted that gentrification is driven by changing cultural attitudes and preferences. Sociologists suggest that the increasing demand for downtown housing is a private result of growing anti-suburban sentiment. Many wealthy people now prefer the intrinsic “charm” and “character” of older homes and are pleased to spend their spare time and money restoring them (Lees & Phillips, 2018). In this way, poor neighborhoods receive social development and restoration. Creative individuals attempt to find inspiration in poor communities to create new masterpieces. This leads to a blending of the seed, correspondingly eradicating problems such as drug and alcohol use (Hochstenbach & Musterd, 2018). Meanwhile, people, in turn, develop art and find their identity due to gentrification.
My Position and Arguments
It should also be mentioned that gentrification has a positive economic effect. Most scholars indicate two interrelated socioeconomic reasons for gentrification (Mardhotillah & Gamal, 2018). The first, supply and demand, consists of demographic and economic factors that attract higher-income residents to relocate to lower-income areas. The second reason, public policy, outlines the rules and programs developed by city governments to encourage gentrification as a means of meriting “urban renewal” initiatives (Mardhotillah & Gamal, 2018). Thus, this phenomenon is indispensable in creating poor neighborhoods and providing people with work and other advantages.
In Western cities, the concept of an inclusive city has a long time ago acquired a technocratic meaning. The understanding that the city should be accessible to all, both physically and financially, has been implemented in-laws for a long time. For instance, in Manhattan, in the most expensive district, they specifically shape affordable housing for the city’s middle- and low-income residents (Mardhotillah & Gamal, 2018). The developer is conditioned that he can build a building five stories higher if 5 percent of the housing is rented on special terms to the privileged populations (Mardhotillah & Gamal, 2018, p. 1346). This is important because segregation is evil for everyone and a source of social tension and criminality. In cynical terms, gentrification is how the rich protect the peace and tranquility of the city and create conditions for all groups to be satisfied.
It is significant to remark that high-paying white-collar jobs neighborhoods closer to the city’s central part. They attract wealthy people looking for shorter commutes to work and lower housing prices typical of aging communities. Thus, it encourages wealthy people to bring capital to poorer neighborhoods, which promotes their development and growth. As older homes are rebuilt, the overall character of the area improves, and more retail establishments open to serve the growing number of new residents.
Cultural displacement, often a side product of racial displacement, occurs gradually as the departure of older residents alters the social character of the ennobling neighborhood. As old area landmarks, such as historically black temples, close, the community loses its history, and its remaining ancient residents lose their sense of belonging and belonging. As stores and services increasingly cater to the needs and characteristics of new residents, remaining longtime residents often feel displaced, even though they still live in the neighborhood (Smith & Thorpe, 2020). Instead, as higher- and middle-income residents replace the original low-income population, the political power structure in the enriching area can also change. New local administrators begin to neglect the needs of the remaining old-timers (Smith & Thorpe, 2020). As longtime residents feel that their political influence is evaporating, they become even more reluctant to participate in public life and are even more likely to leave the neighborhood physically.
While gentrification occurs in cities and towns across the United States, the clearest examples of how its effects can be a problem can be found in Washington, D.C. For decades, many black Americans have referred to Washington, D.C., as “the Chocolate Garden” because the city’s population was predominantly African-American. Despite U.S. Census data indicating that black residents declined from 71 percent of the city’s population to 48 percent between 1970 and 2015, while the white population increased by 25 percent over the same period (Smith & Thorpe, 2020, p. 509). More than 20,000 black residents were displaced between 2000 and 2013 as Washington underwent the highest rate of gentrification in America. Among the remaining black residents, 23%, almost one in four, now live on the lines. By comparison, only 3 percent of Washington’s white residents live in poverty (Smith & Thorpe, 2020, p. 509). Therefore, considering this, it could be argued that gentrification is part of segmentation.
The city needs new residents, though, and the inflow of new residents helps improve the economic situation. In particular, it contributes to the development of local businesses. It also transforms the neighborhood through the infusion of funds into real estate and the beautification of the area, revitalizing the community. Public gardens are being landscaped, roads are being upgraded, and formerly empty buildings are repopulated. In addition, gentrification frequently introduces new cultures and attitudes. This manifests itself, for instance, in types of architecture or methods of creating public spaces. People can redecorate buildings even through the windows of new cafes or stores that are opening. These new elements convey information about the class, identity, and belonging. In this way, through transformation, black people also gain jobs and earning opportunities. This contributes to the fact that they can obtain a high level of employment.
The transformation of Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood was also influenced by gentrification. Studies demonstrate that Miami’s standard of living rose by 30 percent after gentrification began (Speakman, 2022, p.1). Since the 50s, the area has been predominantly populated by Puerto Ricans (Speakman, 2022, p.1). The part that became the driver of the neighborhood’s transformation consisted of old auto repair stores and small factories. Some workshops performed well, but others were closed, abandoned, and served as a refuge for antisocial elements. The development of this neighborhood began in 2005 when some of the world’s best graffiti artists were invited to the city and asked to paint the walls of the old warehouses and workshops (Speakman, 2022, p.1). The graffiti was visually incredible, and people began gravitating to the neighborhood to admire the street art. At the same time, famous artists’ galleries began to open, and restaurants, clubs, and bars appeared. In ten years, the neighborhood had changed beyond recognition, becoming, without exaggeration, the second center of Miami.
Summary and Conclusion
Therefore, gentrification is a positive phenomenon that contributes to the reconstruction and modernization of disadvantaged areas and the attraction of wealthier residents. Despite the widespread belief that gentrification is a type of segmentation, this phenomenon positively affects community development. With the inclusion of new residents who contribute to sociocultural development and invest in the city, the standard of living of the community increases. Accordingly, even the poor category of the population has a chance to enhance their standard of living.
Hochstenbach, C., & Musterd, S. (2018). Gentrification and the suburbanization of poverty: Changing urban geographies through boom and bust periods. Urban Geography, 39(1), 26-53. doi: 10.1080/02723638.2016.1276718
Lees, L., & Phillips, M. (2018). Handbook of gentrification studies. Edward Elgar Publishing.
Mardhotillah, H., & Gamal, A. (2018). Segregation and gentrification of an informal settlement in a city center. Architecture, 9(7), 1346-1354. doi:10.14716/ijtech.v9i7.2519
Smith, G. S., & Thorpe, R. J. (2020). Gentrification: A Priority for Environmental Justice and Health Equity Research. Ethnicity & Disease, 30(3), 509-512. doi:10.18865/ed.30.3.509
Speakman, M. (2022). Little Wynwood: whiteness, tourism, and gentrification in Havana’s San Isidro neighborhood. Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies, 1-11. doi:10.1080/0907676X.2022.2045884