What does Gentrification mean in sociology

The term gentrification can be used to denote the various changes in the urban neighborhoods which includes economic changes due to the arrival of wealthier people such that rents and property values increase resulting in the displacement of the poor people. This process although leads to various positive changes like reduced crime rates, improvements in infrastructure, and economic growth, it, however, marginalizes already established residents, who are not financially strong. Hence, it is a controversial political topic of urban planning. The benefits coming from it are mostly enjoyed by the rich and wealthy alone.

Gentrification brings with it various changes. In terms of demography, a decline in the proportion of racial minorities and household size takes place due to the replacement of poor families by young singles and couples. Prices of properties and rent increase and lands are occupied mostly for building offices, restaurants, storefronts, and multimedia companies rather than industries. In addition, various cultural and social changes occur in terms of lifestyle, consumption pattern, occupation, etc. Not only does the income structure changes, but changes in education level are also noticed.

An example can be mentioned here in New York City. To make the reputed city it is today, in 2003, 225,000 renters were pushed out of the neighborhood due to some financial issues. Among those renters, 96000 were displaced either by their landlords or by the officials of the government. The other neighbourhoods also faced gentrification, and today, along with New York City, they are also some of the nicest cities in the world.

In order to understand the complex process of gentrification better, various changes can be considered. To begin with, there come the historic conditions that made the communities susceptible to it. In this, the rules and policies can be taken into consideration which has often created racialized patterns of disinvestment in communities that led the low-income population susceptible to gentrification. People of color, for instance, were denied loans which could help them in investments or building houses. Extension of highways was also done mostly by displacing the low-income population. Most policies greatly favored the growth of white settlements fuelling the entering of rich people into the neighborhood due to their affordability. Increased investments, economic development, and better infrastructure by real estate development businesses, all lead to this restoration process by luring rich people to move into these neighborhoods.  Poor residents, on the other hand, are not able to benefit from new investments in housing, healthy food access, or better infrastructure. Instead, they are displaced, faced with a rent increase, evictions, etc.

Displacements make people lose their jobs, children are affected in terms of their education and mental health, and families are separated leading to a reduced sense of belonging. Public, private, as well as non-profit organisations should take initiatives to give the long term residents assurance of non- displacement. Strategies should be taken so that even poor residents can somehow benefit from the various investment schemes and infrastructural changes.

References:https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gentrification

Sabnam, pursuing Sociology from Miranda House, Delhi University hails from the land of red River, Assam. She is a pure non-realist, because, as she puts it, "reality hurts and pain is not what I endure but what I pour into paper!".