Gentrification, Displacement, and Neighborhood Revitalization

By J. John Palen; Bruce London | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
The Ideology of Dense Neighborhood Redevelopment

IRVING L. ALLEN

In a few neighborhoods of many mature North American cities there is a clear resettlement, and sometimes a complete succession, by middle-class people "reclaiming" old city neighborhoods ( James 1977; London 1978). This phenomenon of "gentrification" or "reinvasion" (London Forthcoming) is occurring principally in larger, older cities, especially those with a still vital core, many white-collar workers, and long commuting distances to suburbs ( Lipton 1977).

This essay is a sociocultural interpretation of emergent ideology and utopian quest for community in the social movement of neighborhood reinvasion. The new settlers are the trend-setters, the tastemakers, and perhaps the harbingers of a wider social movement. They are formulating new definitions of the acceptability and desirability of dense "traditional" city living. I will argue that, for a minority of the participants, the movement represents a change in American community ideology toward the value of social diversity of ethnicity. Similar principles apply to emerging interests in pluralism with respect to other kinds of human variety, such as difference in class and status, age groups, sexual orientations, and

____________________
Irving L. Allen is Professor of Sociology, the University of Connecticut, Storrs. Reprinted, with changes, from Urban Affairs Quarterly, Vol. 15 (June) 1980: 409-428, © 1980 Sage Publications, Beverly Hills/ London, with permission of the publisher.

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