Gentrification And The Effects On Urban Development Sociology Essay Example
Gentrification And The Effects On Urban Development Sociology Essay Example

Gentrification And The Effects On Urban Development Sociology Essay Example

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  • Pages: 10 (2623 words)
  • Published: September 10, 2017
  • Type: Research Paper
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Gentrification, the process of urban development, is currently influenced by economic and social factors as well as globalization. These influences result in ongoing changes in urban development, leading to socio-economic and demographic transformations driven by gentrification.

Despite a lack of extensive research on the potential effects of gentrification, there continues to be an ongoing debate regarding whether it brings about positive or negative outcomes. Nevertheless, changes in urban development have important implications that require policymakers to decide whether they should encourage or hinder gentrification. However, attempts by policymakers to control this process and the resulting urban development encounter difficulties in intervening in local economic growth. In such situations, policymakers need to have a thorough comprehension of whether gentrification produces favorable or unfavorable consequences and if its advantages outweigh its disadvantages.

The support of gentrification is


crucial for urban development, but it also poses the risk of exacerbating inequality among different societal groups. This can result in the marginalization and exclusion of those who are economically disadvantaged. Hence, a comprehensive examination of the gentrification process is vital. It is important for policy makers to acknowledge that gentrification has a significant impact on the social, economic, and demographic progress of modern urban areas.

The Essence and Definition of Gentrification

While experts (De Courcy Hinds, 1987) attribute its origins to the mid-20th century and the period after World War II when significant changes began occurring in communities inhabited by lower- and working-class individuals, gentrification is a relatively recent phenomenon.

The gentrification trend in urban development is exemplified by Brooklyn, New York. On November 22, 1966, a team of city workers was instructed to demolish a dilapidated four-story brownstone at the intersection of Stat

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and Nevins Street. The city had acquired this rundown building due to unpaid taxes and was concerned about it becoming a gathering spot for homeless people and drug users. However, it wasn't until the late twentieth century that gentrification began to gain prominence. Gentrification refers to the displacement of middle-class individuals from low-income and working-class neighborhoods. These communities typically witness their original residents being progressively replaced by affluent individuals and professionals who choose to live there instead. As a result, there is a significant decrease in the proportion of original native residents.

The migration of wealthier individuals to low-income and working class neighborhoods results in the establishment of local communities, causing native populations to emigrate. However, gentrification is a complex and recent phenomenon that necessitates additional examination. Accordingly, researchers seek to investigate gentrification within the realm of urban development in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of its consequences. Prior to delving into the influence of gentrification on urban development, it is crucial to take into account the root causes of gentrification (Sassen, 1995).

Examining the causes of gentrification can help us understand its core and long-term effects.

Economic Causes of Gentrification

Experts (Brandes Gratz, 1989) emphasize economic factors as primary triggers when investigating gentrification causes. Specifically, the economic growth of large cities leads to population increase and higher demands for residential areas, amenities, and a better environment. In this scenario, young professionals and middle-class individuals often choose to relocate to low-income and working-class communities where affordable housing is available in order to gain independence from their parents by having their own homes. The availability of reasonably priced housing attracts middle-class individuals seeking affordable living options.

Furthermore, economic factors

often drive professionals to low-income and working-class communities. For example, these professionals prefer to live close to their work in the city to save time and money on commuting. This prioritization of economic concerns over the needs of middle-class representatives and professionals, particularly young individuals, leads them to move from traditional areas of their life to these lower-income communities.

Social factors contributing to gentrification

In reality, social factors also significantly contribute to the emergence of gentrification in modern cities, consistently influencing their development.

According to specialists, artists, instructors, and cultural decision makers are at the forefront of gentrification. They seek new living spaces that offer independence from car-dependent suburbs. Young graduates, educators, artists, and other middle-class individuals desire to reside closer to the city center in order to access essential services and appealing urban areas. This enables them to sustain their lifestyle while conveniently accessing necessary services. Gentrification additionally promotes self-sufficiency by reducing dependence on parents and transportation. Consequently, middle-class individuals relocate to low-income and working-class neighborhoods.

Economic globalisation

According to Ley (1986), the phenomenon of gentrification is closely associated with and triggered by the process of globalisation. It is important to highlight that globalisation facilitates the unhindered and swift movement of both capital and individuals, thereby fueling gentrification. The middle class acquires properties in low-income and working class areas, refurbishing them to match their desired standards of living. Similarly, immigrants with higher incomes can also relocate to these neighborhoods, purchasing properties at discounted rates and enhancing them according to their preferences.

Globalization leads to the rise of banking and service activities, which replace traditional manufacturing in urban economies. Professionals in these sectors frequently opt to live in low-income communities near

their workplace, while others choose remote work to save time and money on commuting. These professionals are attracted to low-income communities because they have a lower cost of living, are close to city centers, and offer amenities and services. However, gentrification brings continuous changes in urban development and significantly impacts the economic progress of vulnerable communities. Experts caution that gentrification often disregards the lower-income segment of society both literally and metaphorically. The author suggests that gentrification results in replacing disadvantaged individuals within the workforce with middle-class individuals.

When faced with this situation, low-income households and working-class individuals are compelled to relocate from their own neighborhoods to areas where the quality of life is even worse. Consequently, notable changes occur when middle-class residents subsequently migrate into these lower-income and working-class communities. They enhance living conditions by renovating their homes and supporting the growth of businesses and essential services required to maintain their higher standards of living. In this manner, the middle class dedicates substantial resources to improving these local communities in order to align them with their typical standards of living, which consistently surpass those of low-income households and working-class individuals. As a result, the increase in standards of living, along with significant investments and the development of local infrastructure, services, and amenities significantly augment both real estate value within the community and cost of living.

According to McKenzie (2006), middle-class individuals in low-income and working class communities make substantial investments, leading to increased living expenses that are unaffordable for the local population. This results in consistent changes in economic development for vulnerable communities impacted by gentrification.

The middle-class individuals who contribute to the economic growth of low-income areas

cause housing prices and overall cost of living to rise. As a result, impoverished communities are transformed into successful and rapidly progressing areas with thriving business activities. At first glance, gentrification has positive economic effects.

According to experts (Sassen, 1995), gentrification can have adverse effects on low-income and working-class individuals as it displaces them from their communities when middle-class residents start moving in. Consequently, they are compelled to search for affordable housing outside city centers. Unfortunately, the increasing prevalence of gentrification makes it more difficult for them to find economical homes since they lack the financial resources required for constructing or buying their own properties. As a result, these individuals frequently end up residing on the outskirts of major cities or other areas where living conditions worsen and become intolerable.

The representatives of the intermediate group aim to improve living conditions and support social initiatives. However, disadvantaged individuals are limited to economically stagnant neighborhoods, which obstructs their progress. This economic inequality favors the affluent and middle class while hindering those with low incomes and working-class backgrounds. Additionally, uneven economic growth within cities hampers the development of regions inhabited by low-income and working-class populations but benefits areas where the middle class resides. Gentrification contributes to economic prosperity by improving local infrastructure and creating opportunities for entrepreneurs.

Due to gentrification, the middle and upper classes see their wealth grow, while the poor face heightened financial difficulties and are unable to afford housing in the city. As a result, they become marginalized.

Social consequences of gentrification

Gentrification also causes ongoing economic shifts that negatively impact vulnerable communities. This leads to worsening economic conditions in urban areas and a decrease in the social status

of low-income and working-class individuals.

Both the low-income and working class, as well as those in-between, face distinct consequences resulting from gentrification. Economic changes impact both groups equally and contribute to societal shifts; however, it is the poor who are particularly susceptible to experiencing adverse outcomes caused by gentrification.

The text highlights the difficulties faced by individuals during migration from their home countries to new ones. These new places often have inferior living conditions compared to their previous communities. People from low-income and working-class backgrounds are compelled to relocate and start afresh, leading to various social problems such as the need for essential infrastructure and positive community relationships.

Furthermore, financial limitations force the poor to change jobs when they move to another country. This can be due to inability to afford transportation costs or conflicts in work schedules with their previous employment. Consequently, this relocation may result in unemployment, particularly in regions with limited economic development and a stagnant economy.

Moreover, those representing the low-income and working class may also encounter high crime rates in the neighborhoods where they settle after being displaced from their original communities due to gentrification.

The unfortunate individuals, who find themselves in desperate situations and have no control over their lives, are compelled to resort to criminal acts in order to survive and make ends meet in unfamiliar communities. These communities predominantly consist of people from the middle class. Individuals from the low-income bracket as well as the working class frequently engage in reprehensible actions, exacerbating societal tensions within impoverished neighborhoods where they live. Limited access to education is another social problem confronting these lower-class individuals. As they are uprooted from their original residential areas,

they must rebuild their lives in emerging communities and regions.

They lack the ability and resources to establish educational institutions and systems in their new community alone. The state and local governments are not always capable and willing to support the local population. As a result, new communities populated by the poor either have insufficient capacities to provide access to education for students in these communities or have no educational institutions at all. Clearly, the lack of access to education will further increase social tension because individuals cannot secure well-paid jobs and good career opportunities without education. Additionally, children residing in low-income communities with high crime rates are susceptible to the influence of their criminal environment.

In summary, the less fortunate face worsening conditions while societal problems continue to rise. It is notable that the poor lack access to healthcare and must relocate when the upper class displaces them from their traditional homes. Education services are also inaccessible due to high costs of healthcare, making it unaffordable for the poor. Moreover, insufficient state funding leaves the poor without basic healthcare access. Conversely, gentrification may bring economic advantages to the middle class but they will struggle to enjoy social benefits.

The main idea is that the middle class excludes the lower class from benefiting from mainstream society and economic development in their communities, creating tension between social classes. The middle class improves their living conditions while the poor face socio-economic problems and become even poorer. This widens the wealth gap between the rich and poor, potentially leading to conflicts due to gentrification. This problem will worsen and the wealth gap will continue to grow.

Demographic effects of gentrification

Specialists emphasize that

gentrification not only has economic and social effects but also significant demographic effects, resulting in notable changes in demographics.

In fact, middle-class individuals who buy homes in low-income and working-class communities often have few children. It's important to note that these individuals are usually young when they decide to move to such communities. Typically, they don't have children when they move and need a lot of money to settle into their new surroundings. As a result, middle-class individuals tend to invest in improving their new homes and developing the low-income and working-class communities in order to make them more comfortable places to live. However, the rising taxes and cost of living in these communities limit the ability of middle-class individuals to start families.

Gentrification leads to the improvement of life for the population in communities where middle-class individuals have relocated. This trend is also observed in low-income and working-class communities where it is not affordable to maintain large households. This situation increases the risk of a demographic crisis because both middle-class and lower-class individuals have fewer children. According to specialists (Brandes Gratz, 1989), this demographic crisis caused by gentrification can result in an aging population over the long term.

The impairment of the economic state of affairs and the provocation of societal problems may result from the latter.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Gentrification

Advantages of gentrification

Clearly, gentrification offers various benefits. Firstly, it stimulates rapid economic growth in low-income and working class communities through investments from the middle class. These investments improve local infrastructure and raise property values in the area. As a result, the community's wealth increases and housing taxes

rise. Ultimately, gentrification accelerates the economic development of impacted communities.

The development of communities contributes to the growth of cities on a large scale, as cities benefit from increased revenues through taxes and accelerated economic development in low-income and working-class communities. This provides middle-class representatives with significant opportunities to improve their quality of life, resulting in gentrification.

Disadvantages of gentrification

However, gentrification also brings several problems and significant disadvantages. Firstly, it worsens the situation for the poor, as they are forced to move from the low-income and working-class communities that are now inhabited by middle-class representatives. This relocation further weakens their economic position.

The poor are expelled from low-income and working class communities by representatives of the middle class, resulting in a cycle of poverty. Additionally, individuals from the lower class are forced to move to new communities where socioeconomic issues arise. Unemployment, lack of access to education and healthcare services, and other problems contribute to these socioeconomic challenges. However, one of the most significant aspects of gentrification is the widening of the wealth gap between the rich and the poor. As a result, the poor become even poorer while representatives of the middle class improve their socioeconomic status.

In the current state of affairs, gentrification can harm the foundations of modern cities by creating insurmountable barriers between the wealthy and the poor. This hostility can result in serious social conflicts, including increased crime rates, which can impact not only poverty-stricken communities but also other communities, including those inhabited by middle-class representatives and those that have emerged due to gentrification.


Considering all of the above, it is important to emphasize that gentrification is a controversial process. Indeed, it is evident that

gentrification consistently affects urban development. However, the effects of gentrification can be highly debatable. On one hand, gentrification promotes economic growth in communities where middle-class individuals relocate. However, these economic benefits may be temporary, while in the long term, gentrification can lead to an increased wealth gap in cities.

The societal stability within cities will be impaired due to the latter job. Nevertheless, further research needs to be conducted on the overall impact of gentrification on urban development.

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