Currently,the newest trend in popular cities is the changing and renewing of the lowerincome areas. This has become one of the most important development andsocietal challenges worldwide. Today, around 54 percent of the world’spopulation lives in or around urban areas. Gentrification is becoming a popularmovement in cities all over the world. This term can be defined as thesomething that can benefit or ruin the lives of so many different people. Inthis essay I will discuss the differences in point of view in the current areasin the United States that are being affected by this change. Peoplein the United States have been studying and researching the topic ofgentrification since the early 1990s.
Professors like Sharon Zukin, StaceySutton and other important voices of the current times have many differentopinions on this topic. Gentrification can be defined by Merriam- Webster as “the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx ofmiddle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displacespoorer residents. (Gentrification, Merriam-Webster). Stacey Sutton gives a more updateddefinition of gentrification, she saysthat “The term gentrification refers toprocesses by which higher income or higher status people relocate to or investin low income urban neighbourhoods… in doing so they inflate property values,displace low income people and fundamentally alter the character and culture ofthe neighbourhood. The most kind of adverse of act of gentrification isdisplacement.”(Sutton, 2015).Stacey Sutton sees it as a negative thing, saying that fundamentallygentrification is a social justice problem.
With this being said there are alsoother people’s examples of gentrification as a negative change. Based onthis definition by Sutton, it can be seen that the poorer people seem to bevulnerable to the negative impact of gentrification. For example, they have topick up their lives from their normal residential areas to relocate to newones, where they have to start a new life or new beginning and where conditionsof living are sometimes worse compared to the communities they once lived in.Furthermore, as the poorer people have to move to a newer residential area, thepeople often have to change their workplaces because they are no longer able toafford covering the transportation costs, scheduling difficulties, and the costof living may increase.Anothernegative view of gentrification comes from a professor named Sharon Zukin. Shewrote a book using specific examples from New York cities and neighborhoodswithin New York that are becoming affected by the changes in culture and thediversity of those places. She focuses on how New York has an ugly side whichis a result of the people who have more resources coming into the neighborhoodsand stripping the lower-income residents of their lives.
Zukin states that “As the influx of upper-income or affluent peopleimpose their culture on the neighborhood, lower-income residents become economicallyand socially marginalized. This can lead to “resentment and community conflictthat feeds racial and class tensions” (Zukin S., 2010). With that being said,she also draws some attention to the declination of culture consumption. Zukinbrings to life some interesting points about culture.
In most cases culture isa very important part of the history of the cities. Without culture you wouldhave empty lives. Culture allows you to be expressive and shows the importanceof the city and how the people can be influenced by the upbringing. RuthGlass, the British sociologist who first introduced the term in 1964, sheforesaw the events taking place in a big city like London. Her opinion was alsoa negative approach on the developments of the times.
In her book she wrote “One by one many of the working-classquarters have been invaded by the middle classes…Once this process of’gentrification’ starts in a district, it goes on rapidly until all or most ofthe original working class occupiers are displaced, and the whole socialcharacter of the district has changed.” (Ruth G., 1964). This can be seenin both New York and London.
Glass and Zukin saw that these kind of socialeffects can’t be measured by numbers but rather by the growing opposition ofgentrification. Peopleare affected by this not only financially but physically as well. For example, RebeccaSolnit said in her article “Death bygentrification” that gentrification can be fatal. Solnit used a real lifeexample of a Latino man killed by police just by the way he looked. In herarticle she claims that the San Francisco man died because the man was seen asan “menacing intruder in the place he had spent his whole life. San Franciscois now a cruel place and a divided one. 83% of California’s homes, and 100% ofSan Francisco’s, were unaffordable on a teacher’s salary.
Displacement hascontributed to deaths, particularly of the elderly”, (Solnit,2016) wroteSolnit.Giventhe examples from the professors and journalists we can come to the conclusionthat the “gentrification” is really affecting the people of today. Not only arethe higher income people affected but most importantly the people from thelower income lives are being turned upside down.
Questions have been proposedof now what? What is going to happen to all the lower income people andfamilies? Lower income people face many more problems. Since they have a lackof a place to call home, crime rates are starting to increase. This too willaffect both lower and higher income people. Another problem that can occur islack of drive and education in the youth.
They are being forced out ofcommunities and pushed into systems that do not cater to their needs. The urban development is vulnerable to the growingimpact of gentrification. This process of gentrification emerges under theimpact of a few factors to which include economic and social ones and theprocess of globalization. This may stimulate consistent changes in urbandevelopment as well. In addition, the process of urban development cansometimes lead to socioeconomic and demographic changes, provoked by thegentrification. Gentrification hasbecoming an emotionally charged term.