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Title: A Neighborhood That Never Changes: Gentrification, Social Preservation, And The Search For Authenticity Author: Japonica Brown-Saracino Publisher: University of Chicago Press Place of Publication: Chicago, USA Year of Publication: February 2010 Pages: 352 ISBN: 9780226076638

by DR. AZMIZAM ABDUL RASHID azmizam@townplan.gov.my Over the past several decades, numerous books and articles have appeared on the topic of gentrification. A Neighborhood That Never Changes, however, breaks new ground by questioning the methods and assumptions of prior work in two important and refreshing ways. This book starts with the story of Mary, a Portuguese-American resident of Provincetown, Massachusetts who feels she is being forced out of her job, home and social network by a wave of urban regeneration. This book paints a colorful portrait of how residents, new and old, from wealthy people to Portuguese fishermen, think about gentrification. This book looks at four different neighbourhoods, both urban and suburban, and argues for three types of gentrifies: the pioneer, the social preservationist, and the social homesteader. As page 99 reveals, the book primarily addresses the term social preservationist gentrifies who move to live near long-timers with whom they associate “authentic” community, and who work to preserve the local social ecology. For social preservationists, who like most gentrifies tend to be affluent, a place’s value is contingent on the presence of certain long-timers. Page 99 details preservationists’


criticism of their own participation in gentrification and affluence – a central claim of the book. This self-criticism borrows from longstanding and widespread concern about the threat affluent people pose to “authentic” people and places as well as from heightened public awareness of gentrification’s consequences. Beyond page 99 the book explores long-timers’ reactions to social preservation and why preservationists work to preserve some – but not all – long-timers. Based on the gentrifies’ accounts of their beliefs and behaviours, she reveals that many such individuals “deviate from the frontier and salvation ideology long held to be the sine qua non of gentrification” (p. 250). All of this is accomplished through a richly descriptive prose -“Gripping a cup of tea, Leslie fought tears as she described . . . ” (p. 100) - that is the hallmark of good ethnography, yielding a text that is both insightful and engaging. Brown-Saracino distinguishes herself from other works on gentrification in several important ways, specifically her approach and analytical focus. Furthermore, urban and cultural sociology thrive on comparative approaches, and this beautiful book will serve as an example of this perspective for years to come. Newcomers to older neighborhoods are usually perceived as destructive, tearing down everything that made the place special and attractive. In an era of rapid change, this book provides an absorbing study which reveals the unexpected ways beliefs about authenticity, place, and change play out in the social, political, and economic lives of very different neighborhoods. The last chapter of this book demonstrates how distinct ways of thinking about place and change play out in gentrifying neighbourhoods and towns. It also offers a sophisticated reinvention of the classic community study by emphasizing how local residents interpret contemporary economic and political forces through the lens of culture and the imagination of authenticity. Brown-Saracino examined what the varied residents think about gentrification and in the process counters common stereotypes about the motivations of gentrifies. This book challenges conventional wisdom which holds gentrification to be the simple outcome of new middle-class tastes and a demand for urban living.

A Neighborhood That Never Changes  

A Neighborhood That Never Changes: Gentrification, Social Preservation, And The Search For Authenticity

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