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Gentrification and its contentment: An anthropological perspective on housing, heritage and urban social change in Shanghai


  • Non Arkaraprasertkul


Based on ethnographic research during 2013–2015, this study describes an alternative form of gentrification in a traditional urban neighbourhood in Shanghai, unpacking how the notion architectural uniqueness of an urban heritage neighbourhood has imbued itself with cultural capital in the eyes of the new residents. By understanding how the original residents mobilise their knowledge of this particular selling point to benefit themselves economically by becoming renters, this study presents a case exemplifying a process of social change in which the ‘original residents’ themselves are active actors. The results of this process are the socioeconomic and ethic diversification of the neighbourhood as well as upward social mobility without any intervention by the local government or real estate developers. By suggesting an alternative process of gentrification in which not all residents are displaced unwillingly, this paper shows that the idea of gentrification demands more attention.

Suggested Citation

  • Non Arkaraprasertkul, 2018. "Gentrification and its contentment: An anthropological perspective on housing, heritage and urban social change in Shanghai," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 55(7), pages 1561-1578, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:urbstu:v:55:y:2018:i:7:p:1561-1578

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