The Gentrification of "Boerum Hill": Neighborhood Change and Conflicts over Definitions

Kasinitz, Philip
September 1988
Qualitative Sociology;Fall88, Vol. 11 Issue 3, p163
Academic Journal
The article presents a case history of a gentrifying neighborhood, with special reference to the interplay between cultural artifacts and the forces of the political economy. In Boerum Hill, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, newly arriving middle-class homeowners used various political and cultural methods, including changes in nomenclature, house tours, manipulation of boundaries and an attempt to secure historic landmark status, in order to enforce their definition of what the neighborhood should be. A countermovement then emerged on the part of older residents, who using a different set of cultural referents (based on the notion of ethnic pride), sought to enforce a different definition. The author proposes that while the "neighborhood" is a socially constructed entity, the resources with which this construction takes place are unequally distributed. Moreover, as the notion of neighborhood has become increasingly politically salient in recent years, the author suggests that cultural conflicts over the definition of neighborhoods have become a feature of urban politics.


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