Introduction: gentrification, social mix/ing and mixed communities

Loretta Lees, Tim Butler and Gary Bridge

in Mixed Communities

Published by Policy Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9781847424938
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447305538 | DOI:
Introduction: gentrification, social mix/ing and mixed communities

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This chapter discusses the international scope and increasing prominence of social mix policies that enact processes of gentrification worldwide. It argues that the literatures on social mix and on gentrification, have, until now, existed as parallel discourses, and that there is an urgent need to read them together. The introduction begins by discussing the history of social mix policy and rhetoric, and by assessing, given the recent focus on social capital, if/how the meaning of social mixing has changed over recent decades and if we now have different expectations of what might constitute a socially mixed community. It moves on to look at the proliferation of gentrification and social mix in different national contexts. The countries that the chapter discusses represent the spectrum of policy contexts in which social mix is an explicit policy intervention, one viewed as welfare enhancing (Canada), through to different levels of policy intervention that seek to steer market processes towards mix (European cases), through to more marketized interventions (the USA and Australia). Then turning to the gentrification literature, the chapter discusses the evidence about whether social mix is but a transitory phenomenon on the way to complete gentrification (social homogeneity). It considers whether gentrifiers are more predisposed towards social mixing than other members of the middle class. And finally turning to the social mix literature, the chapter considers what the adequate threshold of social interaction might be to justify an area being regarded as socially mixed. And importantly, it questions whether the aspirations of social mix policy sit well with the lived realities of daily conduct by different social groups.

Keywords: social mix policies; social capital; gentrification; mixed communities

Chapter.  5523 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Urban and Rural Studies

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