From the margins to the centre: Post-modern geographies in the study of gentrification
Centre for Geographical Studies University of Lisbon Lisboa, Portugal
For the past three decades, the housing market of historical centres in advanced capitalist cities has experienced significant changes, with the emergence of new housing products and of new housing formats, with consequences in the urban spatial organisation. In fact, according to a great number of authors, these changes have been outlining the recentralisation trend regarding the revaluation of areas in the inner city and includes the rehabilitation of old places and the re-usage of under-occupied areas, besides the more permanent processes of renovation in some areas, or zoning, all leading to gentrification processes.
In a final stage in the study of gentrification, the analysis of the phenomenon has focused on theories of production and consumption. The explanations tended to be different from one another, each one aimed at privileging the supremacy of one sphere in relation to the other in the study of this process. The first theories have managed to emphasise the importance of capital and the different institutional agents (State, Local Government, Banks and other financial institutions) in the restructuring process of urban space. In this perspective, gentrification results from the movement of capital circulation in urban areas, which explains this process through the devaluation that affects the urban land, regarding the income that a new investment can bring. On the other hand, the theories that privilege consumption understand gentrification as a direct consequence of demographic and social changes and people's lifestyle of certain middle class sectors, in the values consumption patterns associated with them.
The development of this article is based on the discussion and theoretical reflection about the general issues related to the recent post-modern trends regarding the evolution of geographical thought and of its repercussion on the methodology and conceptualisation in the study of gentrification. We intend to interpret this theme of urban geography within the framework of the general normative positions of this movement that explains the social and spatial reality in the scope of the Epistemology of Geography and the Philosophy of Science in general.