Do We Need To Rethink Gentrification?

A growing number of scholars argue that traditional ideas about the causes of gentrification, as well as the winners and losers, may be unfit to describe the complex processes happening in modern day cities.

"Any urban development strategy will be politicized because of the money at stake and the likely displacement of the powerless (from both the neighborhood and the money game). But in the Northeast and Midwest, revitalization is a particularly thorny process.

In post-Civil Rights era Boston, Providence, Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago, and St. Louis, the situation has grown even more complicated because blacks and Latinos have made great strides -- in government and in business. The conventional view of urban politics can no longer be succinctly captured as whites dominating minorities: Those calling for gentrification are equally likely to be ethnic minorities with political and commercial capital. The long-held truism of gentrification -- namely that inner-city residents and their leadership will vocally oppose the redevelopment of their neighborhoods -- needs revision.

If white-black conflicts are no longer the most salient, what are the main lines of enmity and alliance? Several social scientists are helping to make sense of the emerging landscape of race and politics in the contemporary American city, where the old social divisions have been reconfigured. Their work reveals that gentrification is still contested and economic development does not end up benefiting everyone, but predicting the winners and losers is getting harder. Minorities may be on the winning side more often than not."

Full Story: Urban puzzle

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