“Gentrification”, though a new terminology, the phenomena it deals with are not, and can be traced to the foundation of human settlement. Gentrification emanates from the term “Gentry” which is a derivation of the old French word “genterise” meaning gentle birth and denote people born in a high social class. The term gentrification as is was coined in 1964 by the British Sociologist Ruth Glass to describe the influx of middle class people into cities, often displacing the lower class.
Today, gentrification cuts across a number of disciplines such as Sociology, Economic, Geography, Ecology, etc. and is a focus of many research works. Gentrification embodies both social and economic dimensions. All across the globe, cities are confronted with problems of crime, poverty, urban decay, sprawl, etc. Most measures at ameliorating these vices often take the form of urban infrastructure development that often neglect the capacity of low income and working class, further displacing them from city centers.
Some have argued that urban renewal is a necessary approach aimed at mitigating urban problems and improving the quality of life of urban residents; but more so often these measures result in displacing the urban poor and lower class to surrounding suburbs where new slums emerge with the accompany vices. While urban decay and many of the negative attributes of urban life must be addressed, doing so in a manner that empower the lower class and urban poor to carve a sustainable livelihood and optimize their economic potential remains the domain of gentrification.