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Dog Parks And Coffee Shops: Faux Diversity And Consumption In Gentrifying Neighborhoods

Journal of Public Policy & Marketing

Sonya A. Grier Vanessa G. Perry


The process of gentrification, whereby lower-income residents are replaced with higher-income ones (Glass 1964), has changed the composition and character of hundreds of urban neighborhoods in cities worldwide. These changes affect not only the physical landscape but also the diversity of the people who live there. This research explores diversity seeking, consumption, and community in neighborhoods undergoing gentrification. The authors conducted a qualitative study of longer-term and newer residents in three neighborhoods in Washington, DC, to examine how the demographic changes that accompany gentrification relate to consumption. The findings suggest that diversity-seeking tendencies among newer residents were accompanied by tensions in the social and consumption domains, such that longer-term residents perceived exclusion and all residents experienced a reduced sense of community. The authors also find that these dynamics undermined the diversity that drew residents to these areas in the first place, resulting in “faux diversity.” The authors draw on these findings to discuss strategies that marketers and policy makers can utilize to contribute to the development of inclusive, healthy, and sustainable diverse communities.


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