A Neighborhood That Never ChangesGentrification, Social Preservation, and the Search for Authenticity

A Neighborhood That Never ChangesGentrification, Social Preservation, and the Search for Authenticity

Japonica Brown-Saracino

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226076621

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Newcomers to older neighborhoods are usually perceived as destructive, tearing down everything that made the place special and attractive. But as this book demonstrates, many gentrifiers seek to preserve the authentic local flavor of their new homes, rather than ruthlessly remake them. Drawing on ethnographic research in four distinct communities—the Chicago neighborhoods of Andersonville and Argyle and the New England towns of Provincetown and Dresden—the book portrays how residents new and old, from wealthy gay homeowners to Portuguese fishermen, think about gentrification. The new breed of gentrifiers, it finds, exhibits an acute self-consciousness about their role in the process and works to minimize gentrification's risks for certain longtime residents. In an era of rapid change, they cherish the unique and fragile, whether a dilapidated house, a two-hundred-year-old landscape, or the presence of people deeply rooted in the place they live. Contesting many long-standing assumptions about gentrification, the book reveals the unexpected ways beliefs about authenticity, place, and change play out in the social, political, and economic lives of very different neighborhoods.