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Gentrification and displacement

Migration A–Z


  1. Paul Watt

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm248

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Watt, P. 2013. Gentrification and displacement. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013


This essay provides an overview of the topic of gentrification with an emphasis on displacement. According to the urban geographer Tom Slater (2009: 294), gentrification means “the transformation of a working-class or vacant area of a city into middle-class residential and/or commercial use.” Incoming high-income groups therefore colonize (gentrify) a previously working-class urban neighborhood, as occurred in postwar Islington, north London, which prompted the sociologist Ruth Glass to coin the term “gentrification” back in 1964 (Lees et al. 2008: 4). However, contemporary gentrification occurs on a far larger scale than in previous decades and refers more broadly to the class remaking of cities which are being economically, physically, and culturally transformed via large-scale property development – increasingly under the aegis of state-driven urban regeneration programs – into living and leisure spaces for the affluent middle classes (Smith 2002; Lees et al. 2008).


  • poverty;
  • demography and population studies;
  • poverty;
  • development;
  • political economy;
  • colonialism