Theorizing Gentrification as a Process of Racial Capitalism

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Academics largely define gentrification based on changes in the class demographics of neighborhood residents from predominately low-income to middle-class. This ignores that gentrification always occurs in spaces defined by both class and race. In this article, I use the lens of racial capitalism to theorize gentrification as a racialized, profit-accumulating process, integrating the perspective that spaces are always racialized to class-centered theories. Using the prior literature on gentrification in the United States, I demonstrate how the concepts of value, valuation, and devaluation from racial capitalism explain where and how gentrification unfolds. Exposure to gentrification varies depending on a neighborhood’s racial composition and the gentrification stakeholders involved, which contributes to racial differences in the scale and pace of change and the implications of those changes for processes of displacement. Revising our understanding of gentrification to address the racialization of space helps resolve seemingly contradictory findings across qualitative and quantitative studies.




Rucks-Ahidiana, Z. (2022). Theorizing Gentrification as a Process of Racial Capitalism. City and Community, 21(3), 173–192.

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