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Definition of Gentrification

(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 of Gentrification

  • 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.

Gentrification Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: gen·tri·fi·ca·tion

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Phonetic Spelling

  • American English – /jen-truh-fuh-kAY-shuhn/
  • British English – /jen-trif-i-kAY-shuhn/

Usage Notes

  • Plural: gentrifications
  • Term coined by Ruth Glass in London: Aspects of Change (1964) in reference to the arrival of gentry—an historic term connoting individuals with high status and wealth—to the Islington area of 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). Lees describes areas gentrified by the middle class, being re-gentrified by the upper class.
  • While typically associated with large urban areas, gentrification also occurs in rural areas. Called rural gentrification, the process typically occurs within commuting range of urban areas or in areas with employment or higher education opportunities and in cultural or tourist areas.
  • Gentrification can lead to anomie and a loss of fictive ties for displaced individuals. Displaced people often incur increased commuting costs and times due to relocating farther from their workplace.
  • Gentrification changes the character and cultural diversity of an area, often due to the destruction of aging buildings that are cheaper to replace than renovate.
  • A type of urban renewal.
  • Type: familification
  • Also called:
    • urban gentrification
    • urban recycling
  • An area is (adjective) gentrified through gentrification by a (noun) gentrifier who (verb) gentrifies.

Related Quotations

  • “Concern with identity means taking seriously the importance of fashion in gentrification: gentrifiers and suburbanites are members of different status groups, using housing as status symbols to define and claim membership of those groups. Displacees are just as concerned with the maintenance of their identity, but do not have access to the same amount of resources as gentrifiers. Because the solution to the gentrifiers’ identity crisis takes place at the expense of the displacee, gentrification takes on a synecdochal quality: the concerns expressed in struggles over gentrification exemplify the general concern with identity in conditions of modernity, which should be understood as the subjective experience of everyday life within a capitalist mode of production. The context within which these struggles over status take place is nonetheless class-constituted and class laden. Gentrification and the struggles it engenders should be interpreted as a form of hegemonic practice. Ultimately, it is this that makes gentrification ‘gentrification'” (Redfern 2003:2351).
  • “Like suburbanisation, gentrification in Europe and the United States is a process which has often worked to the benefit of white people at the expense of ethnic minorities” (Macionis and Plummer 2012:846).
  • “The results suggest that when municipal-led gentrification programs privilege families, they are based on prior beliefs about the economic and social roles that families play in neighborhoods. Thus, we should expect policies that emphasize familification—the process of neighborhood change by families moving in—to be an increasingly common approach in cities where the nuclear family is symbolically significant in the local culture” (Goodsell 2013:862).

Additional Information


Related Terms


Goodsell, Todd L. 2013. “Familification: Family, Neighborhood Change, and Housing Policy.” Housing Studies 28(6):845–68.

Lees, Loretta. 2003. “Super-Gentrification: The Case of Brooklyn Heights, New York City.” Urban Studies 40(12):2487–2509. doi:10.1080/0042098032000136174.

Macionis, John, and Kenneth Plummer. 2012. Sociology: A Global Introduction. 4th ed. Harlow, England: Pearson Education.

Redfern, P. A. 2003. “What Makes Gentrification ‘Gentrification’?” Urban Studies 40(12):2351–66. doi:10.1080/0042098032000136101.

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Cite the Definition of Gentrification

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “gentrification.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved May 23, 2024 (https://sociologydictionary.org/gentrification/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

gentrification. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/gentrification/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “gentrification.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed May 23, 2024. https://sociologydictionary.org/gentrification/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“gentrification.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 23 May. 2024. <https://sociologydictionary.org/gentrification/>.