The combination of demographic and economic changes accompanying sustained reinvestment in inner urban areas, although it has also been used in rural contexts (see rural gentrification). By implication, the social character of the neighbourhood changes, affecting shops, restaurants, places of worship, and public spaces. Gentrification in its initial narrow sense of the occupation and renovation or upgrading of dwellings in working-class inner city neighbourhoods by the middle-classes, was identified by sociologist Ruth Glass in 1964, based on her observations in Islington, North London. A broader sense of urban transformation was elaborated by Neil Smith based on the experience of New York, especially the Lower East Side, in the 1980s. Defined more as a return of capital investment than simply a change in the class position of residents, this interpretation encompasses new building, planning, and tax code changes, changes in urban political government, new forms of consumption, and wider cultural shifts linked with neoliberalism (see creative class).
The gentrification of small villages and towns in rural areas, as well as the restoration of individual dwellings. Traditionally, gentrification has been considered a highly urban process, particularly relating to large towns and cities. The same processes of gentrification, such as the reinvestment of capital, social upgrading of a locale by incoming higher-income groups, landscape change and upgrading, and displacement of indigenous low-income groups, take place in some rural locations. These locations are usually within commuting distance of larger settlements, or are home to large higher-skilled employers such as higher education institutions, or have developed into vibrant cultural centres, or desirable tourist or retirement destinations.
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