Huffington Post Live segment on gentrification (revised)
Image from Providence, Rhode Island, by abbey*christine, on Flickr.
Yesterday, I was on Huffington Post Live, in a segment on gentrification, in response to the article "Gentrifier? Who, Me? Interrogating the Gentrifier in the Mirror" from the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. The article is open access right now.
Here's the link to the segment, which featured one of the authors of the journal article, John Joe Schlichtman, who is now at DePaul University.
Right: a Tom Toles editorial cartoon from 1998 about city in-migration, or "gentrification."
The authors make the point that most academics writing about gentrification are gentrifiers themselves. They do a good job of unpacking what they call the various pulls that leads people to decide that certain places in the city are attractive places to live, and the signaling that occurs because of the changes.
From the article:
Our tool includes six interrelated ‘pulls’ — economic, practical, aesthetic, amenity, social and symbolic — that gentrifiers express feeling and one extraordinary ‘flexibility’ — that for inconvenience — that they seem to possess. These seven indicators are accompanied by what are understood to be three interrelated effects on longer-term residents: displacement, signaling and cultural change.
• economic pull -- it's cheaper (which matters a lot when comparatively speaking, you don't have that much money
• practical pull (I'd call this locational) -- the neighborhood is well-located and convenient
• aesthetic pull -- the building stock is usually historic and potentially attractice
• amenity pull -- there are attractive amenities nearby (hopefully)
• social pull -- desire to either and/or live in a diverse community or live with other gentrifiers
• symbolic pull -- attracted to the neighborhood's identity, authenticity, and historicity
• flexibility pull -- the willingness to deal with inconvenience such as lack of retail amenities, crime, lack of public services, the need to fix your property
Gentrification rocks, Flickr photo by elevatedprimate.
The point about the interrelated effects is that in-migration changes neighborhoods in many ways, in part by displacement and how presence of different people, by definition, changes the neighborhood and its identity going forward. And the "new people" signal to others that the neighborhood is changing which in turn attracts more residents, investors, and businesses.
No "right to the city" for the middle class
Even though the solution to urban disinvestment is investment, academic discussion of in-migration generally excoriates residential influx as a form of class warfare, that even at the micro level while investment is good at the macro level it's always bad. (E.g., see the past blog post, "Is commercial district revitalization racist?")
In short, the academic definition of the residential decision-making process takes it as a given that middle class people not originally from "the city" or a neighborhood have "no right to the city" (as opposed to the "Right to the City" as expressed by academics like Henri LeFebvre and David Harvey).
It happens that I have written about this also, in "Low income, high income, the market and the right to the city." The post reprints my own unpacking of the gentrification process based on my experiences living in and around the H Street neighborhood from the late 1980s to the middle of the last decade.
And in "Missing the real point: city (re)development isn't about "gentrification" as much as it is about urbanism and urban design."