Building on recent ethnographic accounts that have drawn attention to the nuanced ideologies of contemporary gentrifiers, this article brings cultural considerations to bear on the geography of gentrification’s fringes. Through a case study of a neighbourhood at the gentrification frontier in Chicago, it examines the factors driving first-wave ‘pioneers’ into an area with little prior popular identity or interest. Conscious of the wider gentrification process, these individuals are essentially seeking (and creating) a particular time and place within it—they idealise the ‘edge’ itself. Yet while they are actively fleeing advanced gentrification, their actions pave the way for its further expansion. The study finds that gentrification’s borders are subjective and relative in the minds of the newcomers themselves, who frame the process in terms of their own ideologies. These sub-cultural ideals are central to understanding the expansion of the gentrification frontier today.
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