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How Many Gentrification Critics Are Actually Gentrifiers Themselves?

Few groups, two researchers argue, are more hypocritical than urbanists discussing gentrification.
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John Joe Schlichtman recalls a particularly hypocritical scene at a wine-and-cheese reception, one of those social outings held at the end of a day of conference symposiums. The "leftist" sociologists were gathered in a historic building, designed by a famous architect, inside a major global city. Schlichtman is intentionally vague about the details because he doesn't want to too narrowly indict anyone in the sweeping critique he's about to make about academics who study urbanism.

"This happens all the time, this is normal," he says of the event. "But it could have been for a top-10 law firm. It could have been for a meeting of politicians. But yet we don’t see the irony in this." The same people in that room, he suggests, regularly write and teach about a caricature that looks awfully similar in their own narratives of evil gentrifiers. "If any of these things were mentioned in an article about a gentrifier, we would stick our noses up: their taste for wine, their taste for fine clothes, their taste for high art. 'These are all middle-class values that are driving the poor out.'"