Book review: Gentrifier

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Billingham, Chase M.

Billingham, Chase M. 2018. Book review: Gentrifier. by John Joe Schlichtman,Jason Patch & Marc Lamont Hill . Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2017. 256 pp. In: Contemporary Sociology; vol. 47:no.5:pp 625-627


Half a century after its introduction, urban sociologists continue to struggle with the conceptually ambiguous yet politically loaded term “gentrification.” Processes of capital reinvestment, demographic turnover, and cultural upscaling in cities are often euphemistically referred to as “revitalization” or “economic development” and celebrated by many civic leaders, scholars, and activists working to counteract decades-long patterns of disinvestment in the nation’s urban centers. But few will defend or celebrate “gentrification,” which in its common manifestations is simply another word for the same set of phenomena. If “gentrification” often provokes a negative reaction, then certainly the same can be said of the “gentrifier,” the person who, the term implies, does the gentrifying. The term “gentrifier” carries such a negative reputation in popular discourse and among anti-gentrification activists that individuals labeled “gentrifiers” can be subjected to harsh recrimination and blame, and they may experience guilt, regret, or self-doubt over their own residential choices and the potential effects those choices have on their neighbors and neighborhoods.

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