Example Geography Essay

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Examination of the scale and extent of gentrification and its implications in London.


Definition – Gentrification refers to the physical, social, economic and cultural phenomenon where by working class and / or inner-city neighbourhoods are converted into more affluent middle class communities by remodeling building, resulting in increased property values and in the displacement of the poor. (Absolute Astronomy, 2005) It was Ruth Glass (1964) who was first believed to have brought the issue of gentrification to the fore with definitions such as the one outlined below. One by one, many of the working class quarters of London have been invaded by the middle-classes – upper and lower. Shabby, modest mews and cottages – two rooms up and two down – have been taken over, when their leases have expired, and have become elegant, expensive residences Once this process of ‘gentrification’ starts in a district it goes on rapidly until all or most of the original working-class occupiers are displaced and the whole social character of the district is changed. (Hamnett, 2000) This displacement of the working class and the rehabilitation of poorer and derelict housing has led to the transformation of an area into a middle – class neighbourhood. (Smith, 1996) Gentrification has been described by Slater, (2002) as a fascinating, powerful and often frighteningly rapid process which plays an important role in fashioning the physical and social form of cities. Like the more widespread process of suburbanization, it is a process which has had a profound impact on the lives of urban residents in hundreds of cities.

Scale of Gentrification in London

According to Butler and Robson (2003a) there are four social ‘fields of human activity these are: housing, employment, education and consumption. It will therefore be these factors which are discussed here in identifying the scale of gentrification in the London area. Ruth Glass’ (1964) statement shows the effect that gentrification has had on the housing market: it is the process by which the original, poor and working-class residents, are displaced from neighbourhoods by rising costs and other forces directly related to an influx of new, wealthier residents. The Housing market is therefore an excellent indication of the change in an area, based on the contention that working class people can no longer to afford to live in these areas with rising rents and house prices. Atkinson (2000) has tried to measure the gentrification of an area through measuring this displacement of certain types of people. London has experienced massive de-industrialisation, but has also seen rapid expansion of business and financial services such as banking, legal services and management consultancies as well as the continued growth of a number of creative industries such as advertising, film and videos creation, music, fashion and design. (Hamnett,1999) Cities such as London have been characterised by the transformation of their industrial occupational, income and residential structure. The rise of cities such as this with their cultural interests and housing market demands has,

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