This chapter introduces the concepts of gentrification and social preservation. For more than three decades, sociologists, planners, and policymakers have paid attention to gentrification: “an economic and social process whereby private capital (real estate firms, developers) and individual homeowners and renters reinvest in fiscally neglected neighborhoods or towns through housing rehabilitation, loft conversions, and the construction of new housing.” Importantly, gentrification is also supported by public investment of funds preceding or following the moving in of the gentry: typically young, highly educated individuals. Social preservation is in some ways analogous to environmentalism. Like environmentalists, who seek to preserve nature, social preservationists—those who adhere to the preservation ideology and engage in related practices—work to preserve the local social ecology.
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