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Mixed CommunitiesGentrification By Stealth?$
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Gary Bridge, Tim Butler, and Loretta Lees

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781847424938

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847424938.001.0001

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Introduction: gentrification, social mix/ing and mixed communities

Introduction: gentrification, social mix/ing and mixed communities

(p.1) One Introduction: gentrification, social mix/ing and mixed communities
Mixed Communities

Loretta Lees

Tim Butler

Gary Bridge

Policy Press

This chapter discusses the international scope and increasing prominence of social mix policies that enact processes of gentrification worldwide. It argues that the literatures on social mix and on gentrification, have, until now, existed as parallel discourses, and that there is an urgent need to read them together. The introduction begins by discussing the history of social mix policy and rhetoric, and by assessing, given the recent focus on social capital, if/how the meaning of social mixing has changed over recent decades and if we now have different expectations of what might constitute a socially mixed community. It moves on to look at the proliferation of gentrification and social mix in different national contexts. The countries that the chapter discusses represent the spectrum of policy contexts in which social mix is an explicit policy intervention, one viewed as welfare enhancing (Canada), through to different levels of policy intervention that seek to steer market processes towards mix (European cases), through to more marketized interventions (the USA and Australia). Then turning to the gentrification literature, the chapter discusses the evidence about whether social mix is but a transitory phenomenon on the way to complete gentrification (social homogeneity). It considers whether gentrifiers are more predisposed towards social mixing than other members of the middle class. And finally turning to the social mix literature, the chapter considers what the adequate threshold of social interaction might be to justify an area being regarded as socially mixed. And importantly, it questions whether the aspirations of social mix policy sit well with the lived realities of daily conduct by different social groups.

Keywords:   social mix policies, social capital, gentrification, mixed communities

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