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Boredom, Drugs, and Schools: Protecting Children in Gentrifying Communities

Authors


*Correspondence should be addressed to Leslie Martin, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, 1301 College Ave., Fredericksburg, VA 22401; lmartin@umw.edu.

Abstract

Gentrification beings a host of economic and social changes. Changes in community culture do not directly impact residents’ livelihoods or homes, but these differences in lifestyles shape peoples’ experiences of their homes. I examine rhetoric in three gentrifying neighborhoods in Atlanta, GA to see how it expresses both the uncertainty that new and long-time residents feel about their communities, and how it is indicative of boundary-work residents engage in to distinguish their group from the “others.” Residents express concern about the safety and happiness of children in demographically changing communities. I find that residents focus on threats to children as a socially acceptable way to object to the different class, and sometimes race, background of their neighbors. This boundary maintenance activity serves to calcify divisions between groups of residents, and obscures the underlying schisms between the privileged and less-privileged residents in gentrifying neighborhoods.

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