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Gentrification: Zone of Influence

Gentrification is a complex process that involves wealthy people occupying low-income communities, transforming them in many ways. While the general definition of the word is positive, its sociopolitical manifestation has ambiguous consequences. As the two sides are involved, the rich and the poor, some will benefit from the process, and others may suffer losses as a result, to the point of leaving the familiar area. This paper will discuss the phenomenon’s effects and conclude whether they are beneficial or detrimental to the people living in the zone of influence.

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While gentrification has both positive and negative consequences, the latter seems more egregious, so the first focus will be on them. What happens during and after the process is that low-income families who tend to rent apartments instead of owning them face increases in rent and taxes (Schuerman, 2019). As a result, they have to either fight their landlords about the issue or find new apartments, which may disrupt their everyday lives and means to get to the workplace (Schuerman, 2019). Small businesses also become threatened as more established chain stores advance to such areas and gradually replace them (Moskowitz, 2017). The worst-case scenario would be completely vacating the neighborhood from people who cannot afford to adjust to changes, which will significantly affect its ethnic/racial diversity (Schuerman, 2019). Overall, the effects of gentrification can be drastic for longtime dwellers and small businesses based in the area, the owners of which may also live there.

Gentrification does not affect only people but dramatically changes the landscape of cities and neighborhoods. Sometimes it leads to losing their unique characteristics and becoming undistinguished from the rest (Moskowitz, 2017). Older buildings are replaced with newer ones, and not enough attention is given to ensure that their appearance is distinct (Schuerman, 2019). On the other hand, the issue is not the image but cultural displacement, as any traces of the indigenous population are eventually erased (Langegger, 2017). Consequently, the wealthy newcomers’ culture becomes dominating in the area both through the visual representation and the updated demographics (Langegger, 2017). Thus, the effects of gentrification can be rather detrimental, affecting the present population and the legacy left by the previous generations, which, in turn, reduces cultural diversity and undermines the attempts to preserve it.

Despite the highlighted detrimental effects, gentrification provides some benefits. It revitalizes a city’s economy, which is especially valuable for cities approaching bankruptcy (Moskowitz, 2017). Those who manage to remain in their houses during gentrification may also feel its benefits in the long-term run, as more opportunities will be available to them (Schuerman, 2019). However, they may find their portfolio, education, or wardrobe insufficient for fancy workplaces, so it will force them to find jobs elsewhere, diminishing the importance of keeping the old place (Schuerman, 2019). An argument exists that gentrification may help minorities, although it is highly dependent on the area (Langegger, 2017). The phenomenon also has a unifying function, making citizens cooperate to tackle the adverse effects, but it usually happens when those become evident (Moskowitz, 2017). Altogether, while gentrification benefits newcomers and longtime residents, some advantages are situational and not guaranteed for the former.

In conclusion, gentrification is a complicated matter with apparent benefits for affluent newcomers and ambiguous outcomes for the area’s population before the former’s arrival. Cultural and racial diversity may suffer due to the process because old dwellers will be forced to leave due to changes in rent, taxes, and job availability. The landscape will also transform, erasing important artifacts of the past and replacing them with standard buildings. Occasional benefits for longtime residents may occur, but they are not enough to outweigh the detrimental effects of gentrification.

References

Langegger, S. (2017). Rights to public space: Law, culture, and gentrification in the American West. Palgrave Macmillan.

Moskowitz, P. (2017). How to kill a city: Gentrification, inequality, and the fight for the neighborhood. Bold Type Books.

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Schuerman, M. L. (2019). Newcomers: Gentrification and its discontents. University of Chicago Press.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Gentrification: Zone of Influence." May 10, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/gentrification-zone-of-influence/.

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