In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Gentrification

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews

Sociology Gentrification
Japonica Brown-Saracino
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 January 2013
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 January 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0074


In 1964 in an effort to describe and classify the transformation of the economic, demographic, commercial, cultural, and physical character of many central London neighborhoods Ruth Glass coined the term “gentrification.” In London: Aspects of Change, Glass observed that “The social status of many residential areas is being ‘uplifted’ as the middle class—or the ‘gentry’—moved into working-class space, taking up residence, opening businesses, and lobbying for infrastructure improvements.” She surmised that a “switch from suburban to urban aspirations,” urban renewal projects, and the movement of light manufacturing out of the central city, as well as the growing ranks of dual-income households and “the difficulties and rising costs of journeys to work” conspired to enable middle-class movement into disinvested neighborhoods. Glass warned that “London may soon be faced with an embarras de richesse in her central area—and this will prove to be a problem, too.” That is, Glass did not want the reader to conclude that the “uplift” she described was unambiguously desirous. Rather, she warned that, already in 1964, “Altogether there has been a great deal of displacement. All those who cannot hold their own—the small enterprises, the lower ranks of people, the odd men out—are being pushed away.” Glass and the process her words capture have induced more than four decades of scholarship—much of which pursues themes implicit in her 1964 book. Scholars in sociology and beyond pursue research that, among other goals and ends, seeks to document the contours of gentrification in a variety of settings, identify gentrification’s origins, and isolate its outcomes and consequences. Some disagree about how best to define gentrification, but nearly all agree that it is consequential for cities. For decades gentrification has had a central place in urban scholarship. As a result, our understanding of gentrification has expanded beyond the dynamics and actors Glass observed. We now know, for instance, about the role of middle- and upper-class African Americans in gentrification, the upscaling of rural villages, and the defining participation of corporations in “uplift.” Today, gentrification scholarship is enormously broad and diverse. For that reason, this bibliography is far from exhaustive. It highlights resources, such as readers and a textbook; representative and particularly influential publications; and markers of the literature’s heterogeneity. It does not seek to promote a specific definition of or explanation for gentrification, for contests over these matters are at the heart of the literature. In short, this bibliography seeks to provide a starting point for learning about and studying gentrification. Borrowing loosely from an organizing framework used elsewhere (see Brown-Saracino 2010 cited under General Overviews), the bibliography highlights overviews of gentrification scholarship, literature on how to define and identify gentrification, research on gentrification’s origins or causes, scholarship on gentrifiers, and articles and books that document and discuss gentrification’s outcomes—particularly its consequences for longtime residents, as well as for the places in which gentrification unfolds.

General Overviews

In 2007, the first textbook on gentrification was published (Lees, et al. 2007). The textbook, which provides an overview of key features of the gentrification literature, is a valuable resource for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as for scholars embarking on gentrification research. In addition, several edited volumes and two readers provide students and scholars with relatively short and accessible samples of scholarship on gentrification. Atkinson and Bridge 2005 introduces the reader to scholarship on the gentrification of spaces within and beyond the large, Western cities, such as London and New York, that have been the focus of much gentrification scholarship. Lees, et al. 2010 serves as companion to the Lees, et al. 2007 textbook, and Brown-Saracino 2010 introduces readers to four key areas of debate within the literature: how to define gentrification, the origins of the process, who are gentrifiers and why they engage in gentrification, and gentrification’s outcomes and consequences. Laska and Spain 1980, Palen and London 1984, and Smith and Williams 2007, each originally published in the 1980s, introduce the reader to formative scholarship conducted as gentrification took root in many cities. Finally, like the two aforementioned readers published in the 1980s, the review article Zukin 1987 provides an insightful overview and analysis of seminal features of the first two decades of gentrification scholarship.

  • Atkinson, Rowland, and Gary Bridge. 2005. Gentrification in a global context: The new urban colonialism. London: Routledge.

    Gentrification in a Global Context introduces the reader to important scholarship by a number of authors on the gentrification of spaces within and beyond the large Western cities, such as London and New York, that much gentrification scholarship takes as its focus. Topics include but are not limited to “studentification,” “aesthetic practice” in Poland and Polonia, “provincial gentrification,” and local limits to gentrification.

  • Brown-Saracino, Japonica. 2010. The gentrification debates. New York: Routledge.

    The Gentrification Debates introduces readers to four key areas of debate within the literature: how to define gentrification; the origins of the process; who are gentrifiers and why they engage in gentrification; and gentrification’s outcomes and consequences. Each area of debate opens with an introduction by the editor summarizing key themes and findings. In contrast to other edited volumes, the author makes analysis of the literature’s key debates—rather than interventions therein—the volume’s central goal.

  • Laska, Shirley Bradway, and Daphne Spain. 1980. Back to the city: Issues in neighborhood renovation. New York: Pergamon.

    Back to the City highlights seminal approaches to the study of gentrification, as well as key findings from the first decade and a half of gentrification scholarship. The book includes essays on the “rediscovery” of the central city, how to measure or document gentrification, and the simultaneous movement of middle-class populations back to the city and the country, providing a rich portrait of gentrification in the first decades after Ruth Glass coined the term.

  • Lees, Loretta, Tom Slater, and Elvin Wyly. 2007. Gentrification. New York and London: Routledge.

    DOI: 10.1068/a39329

    Gentrification provides a thorough overview of the gentrification literature. The only one of its kind, the textbook, which is particularly attentive to the consequences of gentrification for longtime residents, is a valuable resource for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as for scholars embarking on gentrification research.

  • Lees, Loretta, Tom Slater, and Elvin Wyly. 2010. The gentrification reader. London: Routledge.

    This reader, which serves as companion to the editors’ textbook, Gentrification, includes excerpts from a diverse array of defining articles and chapters on gentrification. Sections on gentrification and urban policy and resistance to gentrification, and the book’s relation to Gentrification, distinguish it from other volumes.

  • Palen, J. John, and Bruce London. 1984. Gentrification, displacement and neighborhood revitalization. Albany: State Univ. of New York Press.

    Presenting case studies of the gentrification of neighborhoods in a number of cities and countries from Manhattan to Australia, this compilation of gentrification scholarship presents a window into formative research on facets of gentrification, such as displacement, ideologies that encourage gentrification, and renovators who engage in the transformation of properties and neighborhoods.

  • Smith, Neil, and Peter Williams. 2007. Gentrification of the city. New York and London: Routledge.

    DOI: 10.1068/a38476

    Invites the reader to engage critically with gentrification, and introduces seminal topics in gentrification studies: the “chaos and complexity” of the concept (Beauregard), the role of gentrification in the taming of the urban “frontier” (Smith), the “esthetics” of gentrification (Jager), abandonment and displacement (Marcuse), and a number of additional topics and lines of inquiry that continue to shape the literature.

  • Zukin, Sharon. 1987. Gentrification: Culture and capital in the urban core. Annual Review of Sociology 13:129–147.

    DOI: 10.1146/

    Provides an insightful and thorough overview and analysis of seminal features of the first two decades of gentrification scholarship, and outlines a set of questions and problems that continue to shape the literature. Specifically, Zukin calls for the “integration of economic and cultural analysis,” and for analyses of the “cultural constitution” of elites in an advanced service economy.

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