Furman University, USA

DOI: 10.1002/9781118989463.wbeccs132

Ruth Glass is normally credited with coining the term “gentrification” in 1964 to describe an apparently novel kind of neighborhood change taking place in London at the time. To Glass, gentrification meant “working class quarters ... invaded by the middle classes,” housing upgraded – both structurally and in terms of social status – only ending when “all or most of the original working class occupiers are displaced and the social character of the district is changed” (Glass 1964, in Lees, Slater, and Wyly 2008, 4). The displacement of lower-income households, particularly those of color and immigrants, remains a key concern of progressive scholars of urban processes, but gentrification has come to mean many more things, too, in the half century since Glass's original formulation.


Gentrification is primarily an urban process and generally involves a number of necessary conditions. First, it presumes that there is some population who wants to move into the neighborhood in question from elsewhere. By the 1980s, urban scholars had clearly identified a “back to the city” trend among some educated, middle-class professionals, mostly progressive, young, and white. Rejecting the suburban values of their parents' generations, these new city dwellers are seeking a distinctly urban lifestyle.

Second, the target neighborhood must have cheap housing, “good bones,” and a ...

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