Can We Bring Culture into the Large-Scale Study of Gentrification? Assessing the Possibilities Using Geodemographic Marketing Data

2020-05-30T04:33:05Z (GMT) by Mahesh Somashekhar
Despite advances in quantitative methodology, many quantitative gentrification scholars rely on under-theorized and speculative presumptions about who gentrifiers are. This study uses Claritas PRIZM, a geodemographic marketing data source on the lifestyles and consumer habits of U.S. households, to augment a Census-based analysis of Chicago neighborhoods that gentrified from 2000 to 2017. PRIZM data reveal that the households moving into gentrified neighborhoods represent a range of lifestyles, calling into question the attribution of “gentrifier” to any particular social group or demographic category. In some cases, despite having the same social class positions, gentrifiers pursue varying interests, suggesting they have different effects on neighborhoods. Once lifestyle is accounted for, many assumptions about gentrifiers on which quantitative studies are built become inadequate. The paper’s conclusion proposes ways in which scholars can integrate geodemographic marketing data into future gentrification research, but it also outlines reasons to be cautious when using the data.