UPSC SOCIOLOGY MAINS SYLLABUS
(iv) Social Classes in India:
(a) Agrarian class structure.
(b) Industrial class structure.
(c) Middle classes in India.
(iii) Industrialization and Urbanisation in India:
(a) Evolution of modern industry in India.
(b) Growth of urban settlements in India.
(c) Working class: structure, growth, class mobilization.
(d) Informal sector, child labour
(e) Slums and deprivation in urban areas.
‘Gentrification’ is largely understood as the displacement of people belonging to certain classes in an area due to the influx of investment and affluent classes into that area. In India, settlements are based on religious and social vectors of caste, rather than economic vectors of class.
The term ‘gentrification’ was coined by British sociologist Ruth Glass in 1964 to explain societal transformations that result in changes in settlement patterns. London saw the first instance of the use of the term ‘gentrification’ in the late 1960s: working-class tenants were being displaced by middle-class people who owned property in the city.
THE SOCIOLOGICAL RELEVANCE OF THE TOPIC
The term gentrification can be used to denote the various changes in the urban neighborhoods which includes economic changes due to the arrival of wealthier people such that rents and property values increase resulting in the displacement of the poor people. This process although leads to various positive changes like reduced crime rates, improvements in infrastructure, and economic growth, it, however, marginalizes already established residents, who are not financially strong. Hence, it is a controversial political topic of urban planning. The benefits coming from it are mostly enjoyed by the rich and wealthy alone.
Urban Gentrification has gained attention over the last century, as sociologists attempted to explain the influx of middle-class people to cities and neighborhoods and the displacement of lower-class working residents. Urban gentrification, greentrification, gated communities, and studentification coexist. Exploring the concept of urban gentrification from an urban perspective will be useful in order to better understand how the term and concept ‘urban gentrification’ can appropriately be applied to non-metropolitan areas and rural social research.
FOUR STAGES OF GENTRIFICATION
Pattison identified four stages through which gentrification neighbourhoods commonly experience.
The initial stage consists of a small group of risk-oblivious pioneer individuals who buy and renovate properties in previously described urban areas for their own personal use. In the second stage of the gentrification process, a similar class of people to the first move in and renovate their new homes. Some quiet and subtle promotional activities often begin at this stage and are driven by estate agents whilst small-scale speculators often renovate a few houses for resale or alternatively, rental.
After the first two stages of gentrification, the media diverts attention onto the neighbourhood and it becomes a hub of interest. The better maintained properties become part of the middle class market as landlords seek to take advantage of the enhanced reputation of the area – leading to further displacement.
Finally, in stage four, a larger number of properties become gentrified and a simultaneous influx of middle class individuals occurs. These middle class individuals are from the business and managerial middle class, rather than from the professional middle class. To accommodate the growing demand for houses in the area, non-residential buildings may be turned into rental or condominium units and buildings that had previously been held for speculation emerge on to the market. Often at this stage, additional neighbourhoods in the city become identified to meet the increasing demand of the middle class.
IDENTIFYING GENTRIFIED NEIGHBOURHOODS
The displacement of low-income households is a necessary condition of a neighborhood being gentrified. This is accompanied by an increase of demographic and socioeconomic indicators such as educational attainment, younger population, professionals, childless households, and consumers of cultural assets. Finally, reinvestment in the neighborhood is necessary. Based on these essential requirements, a neighborhood is considered to have been gentrified, or not.
According to Beauregard, our understanding of gentrification is affected by exaggerated information related by parties who would benefit from the increased economic activity associated with gentrification. This hyperbole might emanate from redevelopment organizations, local newspapers, national magazines, mayors’ offices, real estate organizations, financial institutions, historic preservationists and neighborhood groups comprised of middle-income homeowners.
To identify where gentrification actually happens, it is therefore necessary to measure the indicators associated with gentrification. In other words, we need to find neighborhoods showing loss of low-income population while at the same time showing changes in the indicators consistent with gentrification.
INDIAN CASE STUDY – PATAN
Located in the northern part of Gujarat, the district had a population of 1.3 million as of the 2011 Census. Disaggregated by religion, Hindus comprise the largest group (89 percent of the total population); 9.91 percent are Muslims; and the Jains are the smallest at 0.26 percent. Patan was once a ‘Jain Nagri’ or a settlement of Jains.
The community in Patan who are the primary philanthropic donors, the Jains, have migrated out in large numbers. After settling in a new city, the Jains continue to send remittances to their families who have stayed in Patan and they also fund schools, hospitals, temples and libraries in the city. The investment by the Jains in educational institutions, healthcare centres and temples leads to temporary in-migration. Like the Jains, the Patel community’s philanthropic initiatives also result in temporary in-migration.
In order to evaluate the role of the Jain community, we consider an example of Jerusalem—a dynamic metropolitan space which is also experiencing gentrification. This is partly being caused by the investments and real-estate purchases by the affluent Jewish families that migrated out of Jerusalem a few generations earlier. This is a curious case of gentrification, since the popular understanding of the term indicates that gentrification is caused by an affluent class migrating into a particular area such that this area is left unaffordable for the native inhabitants. Several examples may be cited of such gentrification. But a newer understanding of the phenomenon indicates that gentrification can occur without the in-migration of an affluent class.
Gentrification comes from the root “gentry,” which means a people of a specified class or group. Upscale gentrifiers move in and resettle once declining inner-city areas. The process of gentrification is the transformation of central neighborhoods in regard to its socio-economic composition. These areas become more accommodating to the professional class, and less of a focus on the working class.
Developers with help from the city promote gentrification and take advantage of low property values. This is because of the view that the city is a “growth machine” and it should attract new businesses by creating new housing, entertainment, shopping, and restaurants. The developers and real estate agents actually have a pivotal role in the neighborhood’s transformation.
As the word of this “gritty,” cool, and recently “discovered” area becomes more well known, more and more affluent people, yuppies–young urban professionals–move into the area, causing the original poor inhabitants to be displaced. In fact, according to geographers Elvin K Wyly and Daniel Hammel, gentrification has increased segregation and worsened the process of racial and ethnic discrimination.