(noun) The planned or unplanned process by which wealthy or affluent individuals in the middle class displace poorer individuals in traditionally working class or poor neighborhoods by purchasing property and upgrading it through renovation and modernization.

Example: In a large metropolitan city, white-collar workers move into a blue-collar neighborhood to take advantage of lower property costs and proximity to developing industries. The new residents with disposable income repaint houses, build pools, and add on garages thus driving up property values and taxes which forces older residents to move out of the neighborhood due to economic restraints.

Audio Pronunciation: (gen·tri·fi·ca·tion)

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Usage Notes:

  • Plural: gentrifications
  • Coined by Ruth Class in London: Aspects of Change (1964) in reference to the arrival of gentry–which is a historic term connoting individuals with high status and wealth–to areas of central London in the 1960s.
  • Loretta Lees coined the term super-gentrification in “Super-Gentrification: The Case of Brooklyn Heights, New York City” (2003) to describe areas “that have become the focus of intense investment and conspicuous consumption by a new generation of super-rich ‘financifiers’ fed by fortunes from the global finance and corporate service industries” (Lees 2003:2487).
  • Also called urban recycling.
  • An area is (adjective) gentrified through gentrification by a (noun) gentrifier who (verb) gentrifies.

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Lees, Loretta. 2003. “Super-Gentrification: The Case of Brooklyn Heights, New York City.” Urban Studies 40(12):2487–2509.