Use:one of the key elephants in the room, one of the most used terms associated with urban regeneration processes. If T-factor wants to achieve substantial communication impact, it should address this concept related with the perception that Urban Regeneration profits only the privileged few, something that contradicts the shared vision of the European city of Tomorrow).

Finding a definition that captures the complexity of the term is quite challenging. Below extracts from different sources.

Definition: Gentrification is a process of changing the character of a neighborhood through the influx of more affluent residents and businesses. It is a common and controversial topic in politics and in urban planning. Gentrification often increases the economic value of a neighborhood, but the resulting demographic change is frequently a cause of controversy. Gentrification often shifts a neighborhood's racial/ethnic composition and average household income by developing new, more expensive housing and businesses in a gentrified architectural style and improving resources.

The gentrification process is typically the result of increasing attraction to an area by people with higher incomes spilling over from neighboring cities, towns, or neighborhoods. Further steps are increased investments in a community and the related infrastructure by real estate development businesses, local government, or community activists and resulting economic development, increased attraction of business, and lower crime rates. In addition to these potential benefits, gentrification can lead to population migration and displacement. However, some view the fear of displacement, which is dominating the debate about gentrification, as hindering discussion about genuine progressive approaches to distribute the benefits of urban redevelopment strategies. (source: Wikipedia ).

The process by which a place, especially part of a city, changes from being a poor area to a richer one, where people from a higher social class live. Ex: Ordinary working people have been priced out of East London by gentrification. This word is now sometimes used in a disapproving way, but was originally considered positive. Ex: The area where he grew up has been gentrified and lost all its old character. (Source: Cambridge Dictionary).

The term gentrification emerged in 1960s London when a German-British sociologist and city planner, Ruth Glass, described the displacement of the poor in London as upper-class people moved in to refurbish houses in previously working-class areas. In 1964, Glass observed “One by one, many of the working-class quarters of London have been invaded by the middle-class ... until all or most of the working-class occupiers are displaced and the whole social character of the district is changed.”

Her term for this, gentrification, soon spread to other major English-speaking metropolises as similar neighborhood shifts occurred. Unsurprisingly, this term finds its roots in the word gentry, a broad term that could refer to any high-born gentleperson, including members of the aristocracy. But when Glass coined gentrification, she was tapping into a specific British class sense of gentry: the class below the nobility.

The members of this class, sometimes called the landed gentry, were generally wealthy landowners who supported themselves with the rent of their tenants and cuts of their tenant farmers’ earnings. The gentry were also expected to govern over their land, acting as local magistrates and general caretakers of their tenants.

Long before Glass described this phenomenon, class struggles conflicted with population movement in and around London. Issues arose in the early 18th century because a population boom in London changed the culture of the surrounding rural communities. Higher demand for crops required farmers to increase productivity if they wanted to stay competitive. In this economic landscape, the farmers with larger operations reigned supreme, pushing out their poorer counterparts. The prosperity of the gentry was, in many ways, directly related to that of their tenants.

Many centuries later and thousands of miles away, gentrification is still a mutating part of a growing city. This ubiquitous phenomenon has since spun off other related terms, including hyper-gentrification, super-gentrification, third-wave gentrification, yuppification, West Egg-ification, the playful aristocratization and the more neutral regeneration. With no resolution in sight, the term gentrification is unlikely to fall into obscurity anytime soon. (source: KQED ).

Gentrification is a housing, economic, and health issue that affects a community’s history and culture and reduces social capital. It often shifts a neighborhood’s characteristics (e.g., racial/ethnic composition and household income) by adding new stores and resources in previously run-down neighborhoods. Where people live, work, and play has an impact on their health. Several factors create disparities in a community’s health. Examples include socioeconomic status, land use/the built environment, race/ethnicity, and environmental injustice. In addition, displacement has many health implications that contribute to disparities among special populations, including the poor, women, children, the elderly, and members of racial/ethnic minority groups.

These special populations are at increased risk for the negative consequences of gentrification. Studies indicate that vulnerable populations typically have shorter life expectancy; higher cancer rates; more birth defects; greater infant mortality; and higher incidence of asthma, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. In addition, increasing evidence shows that these populations have an unequal share of residential exposure to hazardous substances such as lead paint. Other health effects include limited access to or availability of the following:

  • affordable healthy housing
  • healthy food choices
  • transportation choices
  • quality schools
  • bicycle and walking paths, exercise facilities, etc.
  • social networks

Changes can also occur in:

The complexity of the profiles impacted by urban displacement today challenges policy makers in the prefiguration of a solution. (...) Urban displacement has acquired new visibility and centrality in political discourses and institutional responses. (...) There is a lack of prevention in respect to eviction. Prevention should encompass a variety of actions that target the highly complex profile of those impacted by displacement. Direct displacement is no longer a matter for vulnerable categories that can be addressed by a residual welfare model and emergency solution. On the contrary, urban displacement is impacting a wide range of impoverished middle class, elderly people and precarious workers who are mainly young, migrant tenants. Thus, preventative measures should foresee the provision of affordable housing for a wide range of categories. (source: Exploring Anti-Gentrification Practices and policies in Southern European Cities, AGAPE, funded under FP7 - PEOPLE, in Cordis Europa).

Use of the term in Academic publications