Urbanization as a shared social phenomenon is typical of the modern world, where much money is spent on creating advanced infrastructure and large-scale buildings. With the development of urban civilization, such a notion as gentrification has become a frequent term associated with innovations and changes in the structure of a specific area and the degree of its wealth. This phenomenon has been the subject of many scholars’ research because, despite a potentially positive impact on urban infrastructure and lifestyle, this trend carries some challenges and negative consequences. In particular, gentrification allows promoting innovation in the development of urban areas, but at the same time, it puts pressure on low-income classes of the population and encourages resettlement. The aim of this work is to describe the potential effects of gentrification and consider its properties in the context of the influence on the population. It is essential to balance the distribution of resources and financial circulation so that gentrification would not adversely affect long-term residents, whether through an economic impact or the relocating of more affluent citizens into the neighborhood.
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Data Collection and the Review of Evidence
As resources for research, relevant academic articles are engaged, which touch on the topic of gentrification and its effects. The research methodology is based on a systematic review and the interpretation of findings in accordance with the considered positions. The results of the assessment will involve comparing scholars’ opinions and making conclusions based on the evaluation of gentrification in the context of the declared variables. In particular, the impact on residents, the role in urban infrastructure, and the relevance to neighborhood interaction will be examined.
When evaluating gentrification from the standpoint of its crucial function, this phenomenon is aimed at the development of urban infrastructure. Bernt (2012) notes two such vital components as modernization and investments, and the first of them is a consequence of the second one. Nevertheless, despite the development plans and phased improvement of urban life, ambiguous nuances began to appear. As the author states, the cost of rental housing in a developed area rises substantially, and property ownership becomes a fundamental economic factor (Bernt, 2012). People with low incomes cannot afford to pay high rents for the standard of living that wealthy citizens strive for, and the lack of financing from budgetary funds entails an investor monopoly. Failure to pay for new conditions encourages people to resettle, which is not the ultimate goal of gentrification but its side effect.
Many researchers agree that the influence of gentrification on the formation of cities’ appearance and their individual areas may be optimistic. However, according to Huber and Wolkenstein (2018), this phenomenon cannot be regarded as a static process since changes are ongoing, and some innovations inevitably do not work as initially predicted. Low-income residents who are unable to pay for new living conditions due to rising prices for land and services are forced to look for new places, while middle-class people are less vulnerable. In general, the neighborhood with affluent investors sponsoring the development of a particular territory is fraught with pressure on the poor. As a result, the inability to contribute to the development of the district is a compulsory driver for resettlement, although initially, gentrification implies exclusively investing in urban development.
Gentrification Perceptions and Opinions
Since the methodology of this research is a systematic review of findings on the topic of gentrification and its impact, value judgments will be considered. According to Cheshire and Fitzgerald (2019), this phenomenon has the most significant negative impact on low-income citizens and involves high-income people as key stakeholders. The authors note that middle-class residents can benefit from innovation and infrastructure development because they are able to cover increased rental costs and, at the same time, are not involved as investors (Cheshire & Fitzgerald, 2019). According to the assessment of academic sources, the middle-class population gets along with wealthy neighbors and is not a vulnerable category since they do not experience the need to move to a new place of residence.
Opinions regarding the positive aspects of gentrification are also found in the literature used. For instance, as Shaw and Hagemans (2015) state, expanding the capabilities of urban infrastructure and promoting innovation policies can influence all the categories of the population positively. For this purpose, the authors offer to provide jobs for low-income citizens and involve them in the process of reorganization without creating a social barrier (Shaw & Hagemans, 2015). Moreover, the effect of gentrification may also be observed in reducing the number of the poor due to an opportunity to take an active part in the strategy of arranging residential areas. In this case, neither side will be under pressure, and comparatively equal possibilities for involvement will be provided to all social classes.
When conducting a literature review, the assessment of gentrification presented in academic literature is perceived as controversial and sometimes highly damaging. In view of the possibility of involving additional resources, for instance, legislative acts and decrees as references, authors note violations committed during this process. According to Huber and Wolkenstein (2018), human rights issues are directly addressed when resettlement occurs as a result of gentrification. This trend is the outcome of politically approved projects for social and economic improvement, but related aspects, in particular, low-income citizens’ inability to pay for relevant services, are not taken into account. In addition, as the authors point out, encouraging the monopolization of real estate and land through the influx of funds into the treasury violates the legitimate conditions of a market economy with the principles of equal opportunities (Huber & Wolkenstein, 2018). Therefore, the call to soften the policy of gentrification and make it less aggressive is seen as a crucial step.
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According to the evaluation of the scholarly sources used, touching upon the aspects of the economy is a powerful argument against gentrification. As Bernt (2012) remarks, this phenomenon introduces instability in the basic principles of financing and funds allocation. In case of a significant imbalance caused by involving a large share of resources in a particular region, problems may occur in other areas. This argument is logical since the principles of ownership regulated by modern capitalist tendencies change, and the market transforms, which affects both the national economy and citizens’ incomes. Therefore, the system of constraining factors is an objective measure of implementation if too an active process of gentrification is observed.
Finally, the argument against gentrification as a controversial and ambiguous phenomenon concerns the cultural aspects of human interaction. Cheshire and Fitzgerald (2019) view this trend as aggressive and note that established social values are lost under its influence. The growing interest in capitalization and building up financial potential in specific segments of the economy entails the withering of democratic principles of social equality and, as a result, widens the inequality gap. Disparate income sharing practices lead to social separation and awaken disagreements among residents. Therefore, from a cultural perspective, gentrification can have a negative impact on the democratic freedoms of citizens and create barriers to regular and conflict-free neighborly interaction.
Based on the data obtained as a result of the systematic review, one can note that the perception of gentrification is rather negative than positive. The valuable properties of this phenomenon are its ability to develop an urban infrastructure and create employment opportunities through citizen engagement. However, negative aspects are mentioned more often, and such factors as social inequality, resettlement, changes in economic trends, and the cultural interaction of residents are cited. As a result of the review, the involvement of low-income residents and the qualified distribution of investments are considered practical steps to overcome these challenges.
The systematic review of academic sources examining the features of gentrification proves that engaging significant resources to urban development in a particular region cannot be regarded positively due to a number of factors. The pressure exerted on low-income citizens creates social barriers that, in turn, violate people’s democratic rights and freedoms to choose their place of residence. A financial imbalance creates economic challenges and entails changes in market trends, which may affect the national economy. As potentially effective solutions, the provision of more jobs to the poor is considered, as well as involving all classes in the improvement program to establish regular neighborly interaction.
Bernt, M. (2012). The ‘double movements’ of neighborhood change: Gentrification and public policy in Harlem and Prenzlauer Berg. Urban Studies, 49(14), 3045-3062. Web.
Cheshire, L., Fitzgerald, R., & Liu, Y. (2019). Neighborhood change and neighbor complaints: How gentrification and densification influence the prevalence of problems between neighbors. Urban Studies, 56(6), 1093-1112. Web.
Huber, J., & Wolkenstein, F. (2018). Gentrification and occupancy rights. Politics, Philosophy & Economics, 17(4), 378-397. Web.
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 and Regional Research, 39(2), 323-341. Web.