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.

 

Extra meeting

To do list:

Everyone print off their interviews and think about how to structure the presentation and come with ideas on Wednesday.

Tatjana: Write up interview

Josephine: Reflect on methods used and why we decided not to make race a focus

Charlotte: Sort out the theories into which ones support/oppose our thoughts

Jake: Think about structure

W9: Assembling our ideas

Theories vs. reality: then the conflict within the reality 

Gentrification has evolved into an academic source that is removed from Ruth Glass’ original definition of a class struggle. Using statistics and charts in contemporary theories of gentrification removes the lived experience. Then we argue that this multi-medium approach shows the reality and lived experience. The language of theory vs the language of the lived experience.

Think about artists, are they part of the solution or the problem. Whose voice is heard, the experience of gentrification from the gentrifier and the gentrified – artists giving local people voices (same with Grime). Artists part of gentrification, but they are more willing to adapt.

When did gentrification start in Dalston and Brixton. acknowledge that Brixton is further along than Dalston but is a more positive example. Sites: Dalston Studios and Pop Brixton and the way they are both related to the market.

‘Everything must go’ lyrics links to Alex Wheatle’s thought that people can’t live in the area they grew up in.

Marking criteria: “creatively” important in the way we present it, what we say, what we display. Each members contribution is “discernible and complementary.” “Methodologies,” need to reflect on the methods we used and why we used these approaches.

Need to do:
Look at academia on art and gentrification.
Need to set up our theories. Look at the Ted Talks on gentrification, how do these speakers present their theories.
Think about race.
Theories conflict with lived reality. Theory is about class. Whereas, what we have in London is a city built around multi-cultural identity and gentrification is directly affected that.
By next Wednesday have a concrete plan of the theories and questions to ask George.

Meet: 11am-1pm Monday 18th and 2-4pm on Saturday 23rd.

Research on gentrification in Brixton

Alex Wheatle made an interesting statement that if you are on minimum wage and looking for somewhere to buy your lunch in Brixton most places in the market are now more expensive than they used to be, which asks the question of who are these shops/stalls really catering for now? There are more coffee shops arriving and retail shops shutting down in the market. One market owner says that they used to be really busy on the weekend and now they are not, because now people are coming to the market primarily for food. Before you could only buy West Indian food produce at Brixton market, but now you can buy food produce from all over the world. Three or four years ago the market was empty and deserted, but now its full. Wheatle says that when he was 17/18 he would never have thought it imaginable that such a variety of people would be able to enjoy Brixton, because it used to be feared. Although Wheatle has mixed feelings about the gentrification of where he grew up he says, “what I do miss is that constant pounding of reggae.”

Urban planning scholar Stacey Sutton gives a comprehensive definition of gentrification in this Ted Talk on America. She says that gentrification is a process by which higher income/status people relocate/invest in low income urban neighbourhoods (which have typically been disinvested in by the public and private sector) typically to make the most of low property values, but by doing so they typically inflate property values, displace low income people and alter the culture and character of the neighbourhood. The areas that are being gentrified are disproportionately occupied by black and brown people thus black and brown people are disproportionately being displaces and typically by the influx of white people (how race comes into it).
Sutton offers an example of how preventative strategies can ameliorate gentrification. I thought that at the end of our presentation we could talk about how gentrification is not 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.
Gentrification is for the good of the city, but at the cost of others. Sutton also talks about gentrification being a social problem.
When we talk about gentrification in our presentation I think it would be beneficial to reflect on what Sutton says about how measuring it academically can remove the lived experience and we should make a conscious effort not to disgard this experience.
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.


Tom Slater calls gentrification the spatial expression of economic inequality. The way that inequality plays out in our neighbourhoods.

It is important that places don’t lose their identity through improvements. It is not necessarily a bad thing that there are more coffee shops in Brixton and that it is now a more welcoming place, but it is important that the money goes back into the community so that the community can continue to thrive and not lose its identity. Gentrification, if done right, can be seen as a way for communities and people to come together. I believe Pop Brixton is an example of positive gentrification and the Brixton Pound as an important method of keeping the community together (hopefully we will get an interview with them).


An example of conflict between the council/gentrification and the community of Brixton is the 2015 anti-gentrification protest: Reclaim Brixton
The protest was about the rising value of property which is difficult for people whose incomes are too high to entitle them to social housing but too low to buy or rent privately.
The protest took place on Windrush Square, an important historical location in Brixton, and was characterised by local people reclaiming their home. There was an overwhelming feeling that the people who made Brixton well known and popular (the roots of its history, culture and diversity) were being pushed out due to gentrification and a new interest in Brixton by corporate chains.
Network Rail was evicting people from their arches to refurbish them, which scared local traders. ‘Save Brixton Arches’ was part of the protest and was opposed to network rails termination of leases ‘enabling a 300% rent increase; forcing small family business’ from their premises and essentially ending their livelihoods.’ Initially network rail claimed that 75% of tenants would return to their arches after refurbishment, but it then changed to 50% and in fact there were 39 tenants and only 9 are returning. (http://www.brixtonbuzz.com/2018/04/save-brixton-arches-final-statement-released-as-the-remaining-traders-leave-on-saturday-7th-apr/)

Rapper Akala talking about gentrification in London, particularly Notting Hill, has interesting comparisons to Brixton. He says, no one asks James Joyce to stop being Irish when you read him so that you can enjoy it, you want him to retain his authenticity for you to enjoy it, but some people would like to enjoy African-Caribbean culture just without African Caribbean people.
He makes an interesting observation that you view of change within London depends on which part of the class/social ladder you fall. For example if you live in Kensington the it is easy to say oh change it just change but if you live in a council estate in Hackney and your parents work two jobs then you will be resistant to change, because your position on the social ladder is insecure, you don’t have the privilege to ignore the situation.
After listening to Akala I believe we should add this element into our presentation. We should reflect on how it is predominantly people of the lower classes who are affected and then the conflict this ensues, for example in protests.


The riot against the cereal cafe in Shoreditch is another example of the community fighting back. The anti-gentrification group called the fuck parade launched an attack against the cereal cafe, because they felt it represented a more serious problem around London. The problem of what these types of cafes are doing to local communities, working class communities being forced to move. The average price for a bowl of cereal in the cereal killer cafe is £4.40, which is why people question is locals can afford it.
“We don’t want luxury flats that no one can afford, we want genuinely affordable housing we want community” – The Fuck Parade – I think this quote is important in thinking about what can be done to combat gentrification.


In 2015 members of anti-gentrification community campaign ‘Our Brixton’ delivered free arts workshops at Cressingham Gardens Estate in Brixton. The estate faced threats of demolition from Lambeth Council, which meant that hundreds of residents faced displacement and homelessness. The art workshops entitled ‘The Art of Change’ included Theatre, Rap, Singing, Graffiti and Beatboxing workshops and aimed to provide young people in the area the opportunity to discuss, understand and comes to terms with the changes they are seeing around them, in their community and at home. I think this is an interesting example of conflict, because it shows that are the essence of this is conflict, but all people really want is the retain community.

Loretta Lees believes that council houses are the last barriers to gentrification in inner London and once they are all gone gentrification will have completely succeeded.
White-collar-middle-class consumption habits expand round London and push out everything else, which creates a cultural and economic barrier between rich and poor.
Lees talks about gentrification in Brixton, saying that it is a front line barrier against gentrification. For example in 2013 people were evicted from Mansion Box on Rush Groff road where they’d been squatting for years and people came out onto the streets to resist the process.
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.
There has been an increase in recognition and protest against gentrification.
Refurbishment is cheaper and more environmentally and socially stable than rebuilding.
Another example is Cressingham Gardens in Tulse Hill where the council told them that they are going to be demolished and regenerated by a private company who will cash in on the views over Brockwell Park. There is a ballot that will take place for Cressingham Gardens for residents to have a say as to whether their building should be knocked down or just refurbished. The first ballot of it’s kind and it soon to take place. (https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/will-ballots-for-londons-estates-help-rebuild-trust-in-regeneration/10034009.article)


‘Social cleansing’ is a word I think we should think about in the next session.

W5 Minutes

Today we discussed how we will include hip hop music into our analysis of gentrification. We will use examples of lyrics of Drill music that originates from Brixton and Grime music that originates from Dalston to enrich our argument about the displacement of people and communities and the building of new amenities in these areas.

After visiting Brixton market this week and not being able to really capture the essence of change that has occurred due to gentrification we have decided to contact local photographers in both Brixton and Dalston to see these areas through their eyes. This week we will also be doing more research into older photos of the markets for comparison purposes, for example the Brixton here and now guardian article.

We will contact the architects involved in the “regeneration” of Ridley Road Market in the hopes of having an interview with them. Tatjana has set up a conversation-style interview with a local Dalston artist to explore his thoughts on gentrification in the area and how it has changed in the time he has lived there.

We will do further research into Pop Brixton, which can be seen as a sight for hipsters and a “new” version of Brixton market. Hopefully this research will be fruitful in strong comparison points with Brixton market.

We also discussed the style of questions we will use to interview members of the public on our topic. We have set up a google drive to compile all our suggestions and will post the questions next week.

W3 Seminar Minutes

In this session we discussed how we will put our ideas around Gentrification in Dalston and Brixton market into practice through interviews. We submitted the Minimal Ethical Risk Clearance (REMAS) and Research Data Protection forms to enable us to interview people who live or work in both Dalston and Brixton commencing 13th February 2019.

Our working study title: Gentrification contested in the urban spaces (markets) of Dalston and Brixton

Our aims for the study: Analyzing gentrification through the case studies of Brixton market and Dalston market. Our objective is to show the reactions and opinions of inhabitants and working members of the areas to the development of amenities brought about by the gentrification of the areas.

Our potential research participants: Any member of the public or market stall owner above the age of 18.

How are participants will be recruited: in person.

What participation involve: Participants will be asked questions about the area and the processes of gentrification they’ve witnessed in their area – e.g. How has (Brixton/Dalston) changed since you’ve worked/lived in the area? Participants will be recorded and filmed.

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Tom Slater’s ‘Gentrification of the City’ <https://www.geos.ed.ac.uk/homes/tslater/gotcbridgewatson.pdf>

We have decided to expand on Ruth Glass’ original definition of gentrification coined in the 1960s, which focused on housing and the displacement of working-class occupiers by middle-class newcomers. In this project we will focus on the spatial and social restructuring linked to gentrification through the case studies of Brixton and Dalston markets and discuss whether this is beneficial or unfavourable to the inhabitants and working members of the areas. As Neil Smith and Peter Williams state, gentrification is ‘a highly dynamic process… not amenable to overly restrictive definitions.’ We will also discuss the actions taken by the inhabitants against or in favour of certain aspects of gentrification, for example the petition in Dalston market.