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Exploring the imprint of social media networks on neighborhood community through the lens of gentrification


  • Joseph Gibbons
  • Atsushi Nara
  • Bruce Appleyard


Gentrification, the rise of affluent socioeconomic populations in economically depressed urban neighborhoods, has been accused of disrupting community in these neighborhoods. Social media networks meanwhile have been recognized not only to create new communities in neighborhoods, but are also associated with gentrification. What relation then does gentrification and social media networks have to urban communities? To explore this question, this study uses social media networks found on Twitter to identify communities in Washington, DC. With space-time analysis of 821,095 geo-tagged tweets generated by 77,528 users captured from 15 October 2015 to 18 July 2016, we create a location-based interaction measure of tweets which overlays the social networks of the comprising users based on their followers and followees. We identify gentrifying neighborhoods with the 2000 Census and the 2010–2014 American Community Survey at the block group level. We then compare the density of location-based interactions between gentrifying and nongentrifying neighborhoods. We find that gentrification is significantly related to these location-based interactions. This suggests that gentrification indeed is associated with some communities in neighborhoods, though questions remain as to who has access. Making novel use of big data, these results demonstrate the important role built environment has on social connections forged “online.â€

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph Gibbons & Atsushi Nara & Bruce Appleyard, 2018. "Exploring the imprint of social media networks on neighborhood community through the lens of gentrification," Environment and Planning B, , vol. 45(3), pages 470-488, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:envirb:v:45:y:2018:i:3:p:470-488

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