There Goes the 'Hood: Views of Gentrification from the Ground Up

There Goes the 'Hood: Views of Gentrification from the Ground Up

There Goes the 'Hood: Views of Gentrification from the Ground Up

There Goes the 'Hood: Views of Gentrification from the Ground Up

Synopsis

There Goes the 'Hoodanalyzes the experience of gentrification for residents of two predominantly black New York City neighbourhoods. It thereby adds an important yet often overlooked perspective to debates on gentrification--the residents of formerly disinvested neighbourhoods themselves. Their perspectives suggest that neither gentrification is neither entirely threatening or redemptive for urban neighbourhoods. Rather, it can both offer a better life and threaten long-established communities. While residents appreciate the opportunities, they resent that it often takes full-scale gentrification to make their neighbourhoods nice. The concluding chapters of the book suggest ways for limiting the negative aspects of gentrification and new ways of thinking about gentrification and the inner city.

Excerpt

The ghetto, the inner city, the 'hood—these terms have been applied as monikers for black neighborhoods and conjure up images of places that are off-limits to outsiders, places to be avoided after sundown, and paragons of pathology. Portrayed as isolated pockets of deviance and despair, these neighborhoods have captured the imagination of journalists and social scientists who have chronicled the challenges and risks of living in such neighborhoods (Anderson 1999; Bourgois 1995; Wilson 1987). But what happens when commerce, the middle class, globalization, if you will, comes to these forlorn neighborhoods? When whites who were a rare sighting are suddenly neighbors? We are accustomed to focusing on the social pathologies, government neglect, and the causes of the inner city's inexorable decline.We thus know how people feel about the crime, the lack of opportunity, and feelings of being left behind or looked over. But we know less about how people feel when the fortunes of their neighborhoods brighten. How do people feel when gentrification comes to the 'hood?

This book addresses these questions by examining the experience of gentrification from the perspective of residents of two black inner-city neighborhoods. Despite the voluminous literature that has developed on gentrification in the past few decades, this is a vantage point that has been overlooked so far. To the extent that others have analyzed gentrification from the perspective of indigenous residents, displacement, and to a lesser extent concerns about political influence have drawn nearly all the attention. But as this book will show, these are hardly the only forces coloring indigenous residents' perceptions of gentrification.

This book argues that indigenous residents do not necessarily react to gentrification according to some of the preconceived notions generally attributed to residents of these neighborhoods. Their reactions are both more receptive and optimistic, yet at the same time more pessimistic and distrustful than the literature on gentrification might lead us to believe. Residents of the 'hood are sometimes more receptive because gentrification brings their neighborhoods into the mainstream of American commercial life with concomitant amenities and services that others might take for granted. It also represents the possibility of achieving upward mobility without having to escape to the suburbs or predominantly white neighborhoods. These are benefits of gentrification typically not recognized in the scholarly literature.

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