Ideas on structure and theories

Here is some research I did into thinking about how we could structure the presentation around the information we have so far. This is a skeleton structure so it doesn’t have every detail of the examples we have, but aims to give a rough idea of how we can structure the presentation. I also consolidated theories from the blog posts and other sources into categories which I hope will make things easier.

Skeleton structure:

  • Answer what is gentrification?
    • Use the theories to describe gentrification and the stage models
    • Gentrification as evolved from Ruth Glass’ original definition. The academic field not focuses on statistics which remove the lived experience (Stacey Sutton) and that we should make a conscious effort not to remove the lived experience.
    • Then say Loretta Lees quote about orderly progression and say that we don’t believe it can be this orderly
    • We say how we believe reality is messier, more emotive and can’t be pushed into a fixed category in a text (Rose, D). They remove the human consequences of gentrification and the effect on communities.
  • Say that we will use the case studies of Dalston and Brixton to reflect on the conflict between the theories and the lived experience. Arguing that the only way to fully comprehend gentrification is to analyze multiple mediums through which it is expressed.
  • Case studies:
    • Talk about origin of gentrification in each place (acknowledge that gentrification is further along in Brixton)
    • The role of artists (they are arguably the original gentrifiers but then sometimes they also have to leave – they can help bring communities back together ‘Our Brixton’ – another expression of anger – analyze the photo of the wind rush family outside Brixton station which Sonya pointed out and say how its a recent piece of art that is showing where Brixton originated from at a time where there is a loss of community)
    • The role of music (expresses anger, reflect on what is happening in their home – Grime – Reggae – Drill)
    • The role of poetry (Linton Kwesi Johnson)
    • Affect on the community of these areas (interviews – price rice, markets now selling food from all over the world – loss of identity – Sonya lived in Brixton her whole life and despite not having to move from gentrification she feels the effects because she now feels isolated due to most of her community leaving the area)
    • Protests and the community fighting back (Reclaim Brixton, protests Loretta Lees discussed – resistance succeeding)
  • Talk about the conflict within the conflict:
    • Whose voice is heard? What is the effect of hearing about gentrification from gentrifiers rather than the gentrified? By using the multi-medium approach we see local people gain voices through art, music and poetry
  • Conclusion:
    • Reflect on the methods we used and why we thought they were most effective
    • Discuss the conflict between theories and lived realities
    • Reflect on role of theories
    • Mention why we did not include race as a focus (gentrification disproportionately displaces and affects black and brown people)
    • Show how the question has made us move between different disciplines (methods) and morphed (live research project)
    • Stacey Sutton powerfully says that gentrification comes down to who we value and how we want to act upon that. I think this is an insightful comment and connects well with Adam Wheatle’s comment about who the markets cater for.
    • Reflect on if gentrification is inevitable
      • Gentrification doesn’t have to be inevitable: revitalisation refers to neighbourhood change and improvement from the bottom up, done by community residents and organisations. This process includes improving houses, attracting businesses and making the neighbourhood safe and clean, but the neighbourhood remains affordable for local people. It can also be addressed through policies that implement rent control, progressive land tax and restrict predatory investment schemes. (Stacey Sutton) – Gentrification, if done right, can be seen as a way for communities and people to come together – Loretta Lees: Refurbishment is cheaper and more environmentally and socially stable than rebuilding – Dan Hancox, “urban change is not like the weather, and gentrification is not organic, inevitable and natural”
      • In 1970s neoclassical economists’ said that gentrification was a ‘natural, inevitable market adjustment process, something to be celebrated as part of an apparent middle-class return to the central city from suburbia’ (Slater) but we think (so does Lees) that today it is not inevitable and is being resisted

Presentation idea that we discussed: Play the film cutting Tatiana received behind us while we talk about Brixton and then as we talk about quotations they pop up on the screen along with additional pictures

Theories gathered from blog notes and other sources:

What is gentrification:

  • Three stages of gentrification (1970s) Loretta Lees, ‘The Birth of Gentrification’
  • Ruth Glass’ original definition: (1960s) Introduction to London – ‘One by one, many of the working-class quarters of London have been invaded by the middle classes—upper and lower … Once this process of ‘gentrification’ starts in a district it goes on rapidly until all or most of the original working-class occupiers are displaced and the whole social character of the district is changed (Glass, 1964, p. xviii). – Tom Slater on Ruth Glass: When Ruth first coined ‘gentrification’ she was talking about her ‘concerns about the accelerating rehabilitation of Victorian lodging houses, tenurial transformation from renting to owning, property price increases and the displacement of working-class occupiers by middle-class incomers’

How gentrification has evolved from Glass’ original definition:

  • “Gentrification was initially understood as the rehabilitation of decaying and low-income housing by middle-class outsiders in central cities. In the late 1970s a broader conceptualization of the process began to emerge, and by the early 1980s new scholarship had developed a far broader meaning of gentrification, linking it with processes of spatial, economic and social restructuring.” (Saskia Sassen 1991: 255 in Slater)
  • Tom Slater talking about how the word gentrification has evolved since Glass: today it is ‘a word around which class struggles and urban social movements… could mobilize and gain visibility and political momentum.’ ‘“Gentrification” simply yet very powerfully captures the class inequalities and injustices created by capitalist urban land markets and policies’

Pivotal quotation for arguing that we need the lived experience to fully understand gentrification:

  • Loretta Lees: ‘One of the reasons that stage models of gentrification were developed was to cope with the temporal variations in gentrification that were already apparent in the 1970s. Gentrification stage models were designed to represent gentrification in an orderly, temporal, sequential progression.’ (the birth of gentrification) – We then argue that the experience of gentrification cannot be defined into such an orderly fashion when the lived experience differs among people and communities

Theorists that agree that theories are not enough/remove important lived experience:

  • Stacey Sutton: measuring gentrification academically can remove the lived experience and we should make a conscious effort not to disregard this experience (youtube Ted Talk)
  • Smith and Williams (1986, 3 in Tom Slater): in reality gentrification is “a highly dynamic process, it is not amenable to overly restrictive definitions”
  • Tom Slater: ‘Just as there are valuable theoretical lessons to be learned from critical studies of the formation and constitution of middle-class gentrifiers, so there are from poignant accounts of love and loss in the context of the devastation of displacement’ (‘Gentrification of the City’)
  • D Rose (1984): She criticized stage models for lumping together different processes and effects, she thought of gentrification as a “chaotic concept” instead. “The terms ‘gentrification’ and ‘gentrifiers’… are ‘chaotic conceptions’ which obscure the fact that a multiplicity of processes, rather than a single causal process, produce changes int eh occupation of inner-city neighborhoods, from the lower to higher income residents” (Rose, D, (1984) ‘Rethinking gentrification: Beyond the uneven development of Marxist urban theory’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 1: 47-74)
  • Loretta Lees talking about the effect of language on the actual lived reality of gentrification: Words that have hidden gentrification in them to market class change as a positive process for cities: urban regeneration, urban renaissance, urban redevelopment, mixed communities policy and the creative city. Mixed communities is when council houses are redeveloped and the middle classes move in and lower classes move out, so you don’t actually get mixing you get gentrification and social segregation.


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