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The development of gentrification is attributed to industrialization, which resulted in the formation of slums and, later, the stratification of hoes, especially in urban areas. The rise of the working middle class necessitated the construction of lavish or comfortable homes to accommodate them. Policymakers are currently faced with a big problem when it comes to the relocation of low-income earners due to population growth. This paper examines the effects of various policies designed to address this problem and displacement indicators. To this end, the paper hypothesizes that policy measures in a given region have a statistically significant association with shifts in displacement indicators.
Most scholars view gentrification as a process that is viewed from a variety of dimensions including planning, sociology and urban economics. From the perspective of policy analysts interested in housing, gentrification is related to the marketing of homes (Jerzyk, 2009). On the other hand, sociologists such as view gentrification as the propensity by which demographic changes take place in a region. Based on the hypothesis, this paper defines gentrification as a process where a poorly maintained neighborhood is transformed to meet the needs of mid to upper income earners.
From this standpoint, contemporary studies such as those done by Ellen and O’Reagan (2008) identify housing costs and poverty status as part of the indicators of displacement. Existing literature also points to the fact that any change that takes place in the monthly housing costs is involved in the development of policies which leads to gentrification. For instance, Jerzyk (2009) confirms that as living expenses skyrocket poor people are forced to move out of certain areas. Ellen and O’Reagan (2008) confirm that the displacement of low income earners is related to gentrification.
A major bond of contention among scholars in relation to gentrification is whether gentrification creates a balance that is beneficial or detrimental to any society. From the functionalist point of view, gentrification is necessary as it drives the society towards development. A sociologist called Tom Slater called for scholars to stop treating gentrification as a frequent occurrence. According to Slater (2009), it is imperative to view gentrification from the perspective of externalities such as class conflict, the crisis of affordable housing and an increase in rent. Using these externalities, it is possible to explain how they create displacement.
The functionalist perspective makes it very evident that changes brought through gentrification are wholly acceptable as they make it mandatory for cities to change. Apparently, this is a sign of development. For instance Slater (2009) makes it very clear that gentrification prompts the rehabilitation of the physical outlook of a neighborhood. Even though the rent increases creates and governing policies change, there is the creation of a more attractive environment. Thus, the cities become safer and hospitable public spaces. Additionally,
I completely agree with the functionalist perspective considering that the beautification of most cities today commenced due to the concept of gentrification. The suggestion by Slater is also true mainly because most people only view the aspect of gentrification from the kind of displacement it causes to most of the low income earners. In fact, gentrification may work as an incentive to the low income earners to work harder and earn more money as a way of improving their economic situation. Innately driven love for improvement also improves the economy and makes it easier for the government to provide high-class essential social amenities. The poor may think that they have been left behind by this form of development but that does not justify the idea that gentrification is more harmful than it is beneficial.
Scholars who uphold the conflict theory perspective strongly advocate against gentrification as it is thought of as a process that enforces values that bring about discrimination. One of the major complains made the believers of the conflict perspective is that the long standing inhabitants of an area are forced out of their lands and this makes a region lose its heritage and history. From this standpoint, scholars like Shaw and Hagemans (2015) insist that gentrification is a profit driven process created by capitalists and it does not cater for the needs of the society. Additionally, Shaw and Hagemans (2015) insist that from the perspective of the conflict theory, accumulation of profit made through gentrification encourages unhealthy competition between capitalists.
Competition between capitalists is trickles down to other products because the profit that is made through gentrification is reinvested immediately. The capitalists who accumulate the least profit in this arrangement perish within a short period and this is a source of further strife in a community (Shaw & Hagemans, 2015). Conflict theorists believe that this form of conflict trickles down to other consumables such as food and this causes a significant increase in their price in the market. The problem with this arrangement according to Shaw and Hagemans (2015) is that most of the communities end up despising the rich or give up on trying to ascend the socio-economic ladder.
I do not agree with the conflict theory as I strongly advocate for accepting change and moving with the variations it brings. One of the major arguments made clear by the conflict theory is that gentrification contributes a great deal to the improvement in a region. During such times, the inhabitants of that region have numerous options which include using the available loans to develop their land instead of selling. Alternatively, they can sell a piece of the land and maintain a part which they can still treat as ancestral land. For this reason, the conflict theory is inapplicable.
Symbolic Interaction Theory
Scholars from this school of thought believe that gentrification is an approach towards urban renewal but it causes the loss of place (Shaw and Hagemans, 2015). Apparently, gentrification causes the marginalization of communities based on financial abilities. Capitalists drive gentrification by creating propitious neighborhoods meant to attract social and cultural institutions that are of a higher class. This is a concept that is also referred to as symbolic violence. In as much as symbolic violence takes place and a region is stripped off its cultural power, gentrification also leads to the development of a region by transforming the housing and other parts (Shaw and Hagemans, 2015).
I strongly agree that gentrification is both beneficial and harmful based on the fact that it helps in the development of a region but strips it of its cultural functions. However, I could use the example of Toronto competing with Montreal immediately railroads were built to bring goods from the hinterland. The two regions owe their current economic status to gentrification. Additionally, culture is easy to maintain and salvage. That is why regardless of the major developments in countries such as China, the people uphold their cultural beliefs. It thus implies that salvaging culture is never that difficult. In fact, students learn culture in their schools through the various history classes.
Gentrification is a process whose impact is viewed in both negative and positive perspectives. This paper hypothesizes that there is a significant statistical relationship between the policy interventions in a region and the indicators of displacement. Using the functionalist perspective, it is possible to see that this relationship is positive. The symbolic interaction perspective views gentrification as both beneficial and harmful. In as much as it causes a loss in the culture, it helps a region grow. The conflict perspective is against gentrification because it causes stratification and pushes away people who are of a lower financial class. It is evident that the policies of a region affect its development.
Ellen, I.G., & O’Regan, K. (2008). Reversal of fortunes? Lower-income urban neighborhoods in the US in the 1990s. Urban Studies, 45, 845-869.
Jerzyk, M. (2009). Gentrification’s third way: An analysis of housing policy & gentrification in Providence. Harvard Law & Policy Review, 3, 413-429.
Shaw, K. S., & Hagemans, I. W. (2015). ‘Gentrification Without Displacement' and the Consequent Loss of Place: The Effects of Class Transition on Low-income Residents of Secure Housing in Gentrifying Areas. International Journal of Urban Regional, 39, 323–341. doi:10.1111/1468-2427.12164
Slater, T. (2009). Missing Marcuse. Taylor and Francis, 13(2-3), 293-311.
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