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Negotiating urban change in gentrifying London: experiences of long-term residents and early gentrifiers in Bermondsey

Keddie, Jamie (2014) Negotiating urban change in gentrifying London: experiences of long-term residents and early gentrifiers in Bermondsey. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Taking Bermondsey as a case study, my thesis examines how two groups of inhabitants - long-term residents and early gentrifiers - respond to and contest changes in urban space brought about by gentrification. Bermondsey is a gentrifying neighbourhood in London that has rapidly changed in social composition over the past thirty years. The research involved two aspects. Firstly, an historical analysis of the area's social, political and spatial trajectories. Viewed through this lens I argue that the character of the area's gentrification stems from the extent of its integration into the cultural and economic functions of the adjacent City of London. Secondly, indepth interviews with members of the two inhabitant groups are also used to understand how they experienced change brought about by gentrification in the context of their everyday lives. The research found that long-term residents did not regard the presence of gentrifiers as a direct threat to their housing security. Rather there was segregation between the two groups and protection provided by a large social rented tenure. A third group - 'low-status incomers' - were, however, seen as a threat both to long-term residents' access to social housing and to their (nostalgic) notions of community. I identify a form of intra-class rivalry, differing from the inter-class rivalry between lower income residents and gentrifiers that the literature typically describes. Instead of housing, I describe how public space was the crucible of tensions over gentrification, demonstrated by long-term residents' negative experiences of the public realm on new-build gentrification schemes. This prompted their withdrawal to familiar neighbourhood spaces, a form of 'internal displacement'. I also found a loss of 'place' displayed by early gentrifiers. Through their political practices, such as lobbying for affordable housing, they aimed to mitigate against the excesses of the gentrification they helped initiate. Despite their own housing security, they felt threatened by the arrival of later gentrifiers with divergent consumption preferences and social ideals. The analysis therefore shows how experiences of gentrification among different inhabitant groups are not fixed but open, ambiguous and layered, with different groups representing real and imagined threats to each other in ways not necessarily typified in the existing literature.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2014 Jamie Keddie
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Sociology
Supervisor: Tonkiss, Fran and Tavernor, Robert and Datta, Ayona

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