Urban Gentrification and Urban Morphology

Topics: Gentrification, Working class, Economics Pages: 7 (2527 words) Published: July 26, 2011
Urban Gentrification and Urban Morphology
The term ‘gentrification’ has myriads of interpretations from different geographers, and sociologists. Ever since, there has been protracted debate on its methodology, consequences and whether it constitutes a dominant or residual urban form. The term ‘gentrification’ was first coined by the Marxist urban geographer Ruth Glass (Glass, 1964) to describe the influx of wealthier individuals into cities or neighbourhoods who replace working or lower-classes already living there by using London districts such as Islington as her example. On the other hand, Smith and Williams (1986, p.1) define gentrification as “the rehabilitation of working class and derelict housing and the consequent transformation of an area into a middle-class neighbourhood.” Whilst Hamnett (2003, p.2402) builds on Glass’s definition of gentrification as a process involving class connotations and offers a more comprehensive definition incorporating economic views when he defines gentrification as a “social and spatial manifestation of the transition from industrial to a post industrial urban economy based on financial, business and creative services, with associated changed in the nature and location of work, in occupational class structure, earnings and incomes, life styles and the structure of the housing market”. Smith (1987) supply side (which focuses on investments within urban structure) and offers his ‘rent-gap’ theory of gentrification whereas proponents of the Feminist perspective consider the notion of patriarchy, changing gender relations and feminisation of labour markets. (Dutton, 1998, p.32) Therefore, with the myriads of interpretations by various authors (simultaneously enlarging the gentrification literature), it is evident that gentrification means differently to individuals depending on which school of though one ascribes to. Curran (2008, p.537) correctly points out the sentiments of this author that vast literature on gentrification presents the challenge for students to “figure out who are the true giants in the field”. Dutton (1998, p.32) is right when he said that gentrification has become a “contested boundary zone between radically different theories and explanations”. This essay began by explaining the different definitions of the term ‘gentrification’ by different theorists and identifying the various analysis of gentrification. It also attempts to outline the consequences of the emergence of gentrification. Finally, using the various examples, it also attempts to outline the correlation of gentrification and urban morphology.

There are two distinctive theories explaining and justifying gentrification as an economic process and social process that transpires when the young middle-class are tired of the commuting and their dependency of the city lifestyle. Thus, young professionals from the capital moved to the poorer communities with startling period houses in convenient locations that are in need of restoration.

As explained by Smith, (1987, cited in Bridge, p.237-238) gentrification is an economic process resulting from the relationships among capital investments and the production of urban space. The gentrifiers maybe most attracted by the ‘rent gap’, i.e. the difference between ground-rent levels at various locations in a metropolitan area (Smith, 1979 cited in Zukin, 1987, p.137).The low rents in the suburban encouraged continuous development of housing capital for the development of suburban areas and the expenditure of city money on suburban areas. Consequently, it provoked the economic abandonment of the city in favour of upcoming or new properties outside the city which cause the price of inner-city land decreased dramatically comparing to the gentrified area. The revalorization takes the form of gentrification of already existing neighbourhoods (as opposed to redevelopment or commercial development) it results in the spatial displacement of labour. (Bridge, 1987,...
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