Gentrifiers, Distinction, and Social Preservation: A Case-Study in Consumption on Mount Pleasant Street in Washington, DC

Authors: Andrew Riely*, Clark University
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: Gentrification, Social Preservation, Distinction, Washington DC
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 2:40 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Muses, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Mount Pleasant, a neighborhood of Washington, DC that has experienced several decades of residential gentrification (Gale, 1980; Williams, 1988), nonetheless possesses a commercial corridor largely oriented towards serving working-class, Latino/a customers. Its survival is surprising, as the commercial gentrification literature emphasizes the difficulty of resisting the process. The popularity of many of these businesses, especially restaurants, among a segment of the gentrifier population, is also unexpected, given the literature's characterization of gentrifiers as primarily interested in conventional retail outlets that are familiar or carefully designed to suit their taste. Using theories of distinction (Bourdieu, 1984) and social preservation (Brown-Saracino, 2009), I investigate how a substantial number of local gentrifiers seek "authentic" difference by consuming Latin culture and products while paying attention to the costs of turnover and displacement.

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