Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 163–182 | Cite as

The gentrification of “Boerum Hill”: Neighborhood change and conflicts over definitions

  • Philip Kasinitz


The article presents a case history of a gentrifying neighborhood, with special reference to the interplay between cultural artifacts and the forces of the political economy. In Boerum Hill, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, newly arriving middle-class homeowners used various political and cultural methods, including changes in nomen-clature, house tours, manipulation of boundaries and an attempt to secure historic landmark status, in order to enforce their definition of what the neighborhood should be. A countermovement then emerged on the part of older residents, who, using a different set of cultural referents (based on the notion of ethnic pride), sought to enforce a different definition. The author proposes that while the “neighborhood” is a socially constructed entity, the resources with which this construction takes place are unequally distributed. Moreover, as the notion of neighborhood has become increasingly politically salient in recent years, the author suggests that cultural conflicts over the definition of neighborhoods have become a feature of urban politics.


Social Psychology Political Economy Special Reference Social Issue Cultural Method 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip Kasinitz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anthropology and SociologyWilliams CollegeWilliamstown

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