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The Role of Public Investment in Gentrification

Neighborhoods don't transform only because rich people suddenly decide to move there.
relates to The Role of Public Investment in Gentrification
Ken Walton / Flickr

Much of the conversation around gentrification essentially blames the people moving into urban neighborhoods. This feeling—that anyone who might be described as a gentrifier is doing something wrong—has even spilled into popular culture. Spike Lee famously ranted about the cultural cluelessness of the gentrifiers invading Brooklyn. David Byrne and Moby argue that the super-rich not only threaten the poor and the middle class, but the artists and musicians who long generated the pulse of New York’s creative scene. IFC’s Portlandia offers an over-the-top comedic take on what happens when middle-class white people take over urban neighborhoods. And then there’s the raft of articles on gentrifiers’ guilt, and quizzes that tell you whether or not you fit the bill.

Setting aside for the moment the question of whether most people are even accurately defining the term, there is in fact an entire scholarly literature that pins gentrification on the cultural norms, values, and strategies of advantaged groups like my very own creative class.