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The City, the Media and Gentrification: Actors, Discourses and Representations

Ville, médias et gentrification : acteurs, discours et représentations

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Published on Friday, January 15, 2021 by Céline Guilleux


Partant de l’hypothèse que les médias sont des émetteurs de discours et de représentations, ce colloque vise à interroger leur rôle en tant qu’acteur au sein de la sphère publique dans le domaine de la gentrification. Le terme « médias » sera entendu au sens large, tous les médias étant susceptibles d’aborder la question de la gentrification. On pense de façon non limitative aux médias traditionnels (presse écrite, radio, télévision), aux nouveaux médias (les extensions de la presse traditionnelle : presse numérique, podcasts, blogs, etc.) et aux réseaux sociaux (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.). Il s’agira de discuter des articulations disciplinaires possibles (sociologique, architecturale, urbanistique, linguistique, etc.) entre médias et processus de gentrification.



The city, and more widely the urban space, is extensively represented in the media and has become a topic of interest for several studies (Henri Boyer and Guy Lochard, 1998, McQuire 2008).  However, the connections between gentrification and the media is a recent research field which has not yet been thoroughly explored. Gentrification as “a physical, economic, social and cultural phenomenon” (Hamnett, 1984) which corresponds to “the transformation of a working class or vacant area of the central city into middle-class residential and/or commercial use ”(Lees, Slater & Wyly, 2008, p. xv) is linked to the world of the media, that is to say, the guidelines and the power relations to which it is subjected within the public and the media spheres. The media are also likely to support the construction of representations – defined as the modus operandi of common knowledge, thought and social practices – of gentrification and play an essential role in the way they put contentious issues on the agenda (Gerstlé 2008) to the extent that the term “gentrification” has become a “formula” (Fijalkow, 2017).

Starting from the assumption that the media are transmitters of speeches and representations, this conference aims to assess their role as actors within the sphere (Macé 2005) in the field of gentrification. The term “media” can be understood in its broadest sense, as all media are likely to address the issue of gentrification. We will consider, without any limitation, traditional media (print, radio, television), new media (extensions of traditional media, including digital press, podcasts, blogs, etc.) and social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.). It will involve discussing possible disciplinary articulations (sociological, architectural, urban, linguistics, etc.) between the media and the gentrification process.

Since the late 1990s, researchers have concluded that the media present gentrification in a positive way (Smith 1996, Mele 2000, Slater 2006 among others), yet it was not until the 2010s that the body of research on gentrification and the media expanded. In 2010, in line with previous results, Daniel Makagon concluded that (inter)national media coverage (between 1985 and 2008 in the United States and Canada) on gentrification by artists was relatively homogeneous (Makagon 2017). The artists were represented as both pioneers and victims of gentrification. This victim status made it possible to maintain bohemian spaces within cities, for young, white artists faced with sterile urban revitalization which contributes to the stigmatization of the multi-ethnic populations already present. A year later, in 2011, Brown-Saracino and Rumpf's article "Diverse imageries of gentrification" marked a turning point. Her work challenged the argument that media coverage of gentrification is homogeneous and is based on the largest study – in terms of corpus – ever conducted on the subject. Its groundbreaking feature lay in the extent of media coverage, since it encompassed nine newspapers in seven American cities from 1986 to 2006. It concluded that the journalistic coverage of gentrification was much more diverse than what the literature on gentrification had previously suggested. It also demonstrated that media concern or support for gentrification varied according to the phases of gentrification and the characteristics of both long-time residents and gentrifiers.

Beyond this pioneering work, a few subsequent publications revealed a significantly different observation, however, without exhausting the subject. Some researchers have claimed that gentrification is represented as a natural process (Modan, Wells, 2015; Lavy, Dascher & Hagelman 2016) and in a positive light (Rucks-Ahidiana 2018). If the question of the representation of gentrification in the newspapers was brought to the forefront of the academia, other problems have been raised, such as the journalistic coverage of anti-gentrification movements (Gin, Taylor 2010) or the link between gentrification and social media. One of the weaknesses of the literature lies in the lack of diversity of the geographical areas, targeting mostly cities of the US, except for the seminal work on the role of journalists – in particular on David Brooks’s famous work (Brooks 2000) and also on the French press – in the rise of the term “bobo” (Authier, Collet et al. 2018). Consequently, it appears necessary to explore other avenues of research from a multidisciplinary perspective, by renewing both the studied corpora and research questions.

Proposals would therefore be particularly welcome on the following themes:

Theme 1. The framing of gentrification in the media: evolutions, power relations and receptions

This axis aims to assess, over time, the way in which media coverage of gentrification frames certain facts and impacts, while making others invisible. It will consider the different definitions of gentrification at work and their synonyms taken up by the media. For instance, the French media use the term "bobos" or even "boboisation" (Authier, Collet et al. 2018), while the Anglo-Saxon media coverage favors the term "hipster". This vast lexical field around gentrification (regeneration, hipsters, bobos, yuppies, among so many others) reveals power relationships that may be analyzed. Moreover, the renewal of media forms and genres calls into question the staging of gentrification through, for example, TV shows on the sale and purchase of real estate, for which the audience is quite significant. Finally, the question of framing also invites us to think about the reception, i.e. how the multiple recipients of these media receive and use these framings.

Theme 2. The social anchoring of media actors on gentrification and the social impact of gentrification on the media

The media actors of gentrification reflect the diversity of the media themselves. A non-exhaustive list of these actors could include journalists, political representatives or public or private organizations and associations, urban planning officials, academics who popularize their research, or citizens. These actors all have a social anchor in relation to gentrification. We could ask to what extent and in what way(s) this social anchoring impacts the speeches and representations of the media on gentrification. The diversity of these actors means going beyond the sociology of journalism (although this part is included).

This question invites either jointly or separately to reflect on the social impact of gentrification on the media. Indeed, gentrification can be the catalyst for new media discourse, or even new media. They can then either endorse the phenomenon and reach an audience qualified as gentrifiers, or on the contrary, denounce it.

Theme 3. Anti-gentrification protest movements and the media: representations and invisibilization

This axis is in line with the results of the article on media coverage of anti-gentrification movements (Gin, Taylor 2010). This article described factors that influenced the ability of anti-gentrification movements to obtain media coverage of their main political objectives (from 1995 to 2005). In this sense, some questions can be raised: To what extent and in what ways can the gentrification protest movements get media coverage? To what extent do protest movements succeed in obtaining media coverage of their main political objectives? Finally, to what extent can the media themselves be catalysts for anti-gentrification protest movements?

Proposals that reflect geographic fields, times and varied scales will be given priority in the selection of papers. Interdisciplinary approaches are strongly encouraged (social science, history, geography, sociology of the media, information and communication sciences, urban studies, etc.).


Please submit an abstract of 300 words (in French or English – the final papers will be ideally in English but the discussions will be imperatively in English) with a short biblio-biography to the conference organizers eventmediagentrification@gmail.com

by February 19th.

Date and place

The contributors will be invited to present their work on May 28th and 29th, 2021 at:

  • Maison de la Recherche of Paris 4 Sorbonne Université, 28 rue Serpente, Paris, room D035
  • Maison de la Recherche of Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle, 4 rue des Irlandais, Paris, room Salle du Conseil.

Given the current climate of uncertainty, we feel the need to add the following. Should some speakers be held back in their country of residence next May due to travelling restrictions, we would arrange for video-conferencing so they could still participate from a distance.

Organizing Committee

  • Louise DALINGWATER (Professor – Sorbonne Université Lettres – HDEA)
  • Jérémie DERHI (Ph Candidate – Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3 – ED 267 – IRMÉCCEN)
  • Habiba JELALI (Ph Candidate – Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3 – ED 625 – CREW)
  • Marie-Pierre VINCENT (Ph Candidate – Sorbonne Université Lettres – ED 020 – HDEA)

Scientific Committee

  • Claire CHARLOT (Professor – Sorbonne Université Lettres)
  • Thibaut CLÉMENT (Associate Professor – Sorbonne Université Lettres)
  • Louise DALINGWATER (Professor – Sorbonne Université Lettres – HDEA)
  • Jérémie DERHI (Ph Candidate – Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3 – ED 267 – IRMÉCCEN)
  • Martine DROZDZ (CNRS research fellow)
  • David FÉE (Professor – Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3)
  • Yankel FIJALKOW (Professor – ENSAPVS & CNRS)
  • Chris HAMNETT (Emeritus Professor– King’s College London)
  • Habiba JELALI (Ph Candidate – Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3 – ED 625 – CREW)
  • Jean-Michel RAMPON (Associate Professor – Institut d’Études Politiques de Lyon)
  • Nick REES-ROBERTS (Professor – Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3)
  • Sylvie TISSOT (Professor – Paris 8)
  • Marie-Pierre VINCENT (Ph Candidate – Sorbonne Université Lettres – ED 020 – HDEA)

Keynote speakers

  • Japonica BROWN-SARACINO (Professor – Boston University)
  • Sylvie TISSOT (Professor – Paris 8)


AUTHIER, Jean-Yves, COLLET, Anaïs, GIRAUD, Colin, RIVIERE, Jean & TISSOT, Sylvie. Les Bobos n'existent pas. Lyon : Presses universitaires de Lyon, 2018.

BROOKS, David. Bobos in Paradise: the New Upper Class and how they got there. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000.

BROWN-SARACINO, Japonica et RUMPF, Cesraea “Diverse imageries of gentrification : Evidence from newspaper coverage in seven US cities, 1986-2006” Journal of Urban Affairs, 2011, vol. 33, n°3, p. 289-315.

FIJALKOW, Yankel (dir.). Dire la ville c’est faire la ville : La performativité des discours sur l’espace urbain. Villeneuve d’Ascq : Presses universitaires du Septentrion, 2017.

GERSTLE, Jacques et PIAR, Christophe. La Communication politique, Paris, Armand Colin (coll. « U »), 2016, 256 p.

GIBBONS, Joseph, et al. “Exploring the Imprint of Social Media Networks on Neighborhood Community Through the Lens of Gentrification.” Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science, 2018, vol. 45, n°3, p. 470-488.

GIN, June et TAYLOR Dorceta E. Dorceta. “Movements,Neighborhood Change, and the Media–Newspaper Coverage of Anti-Gentrification Activity in the San Francisco Bay Area: 1995–2005.” In: Dorceta E. Taylor (ed.)  Environment and social justice : an international perspective (Research in Social Problems and Public Policy, vol. 18. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2010. p. 75-114.

HAMNETT, Chris. Gentrification and residential location theory : A review and assessment.  In: D. Herbert and R.J. Johnston (eds.). Geography and the Urban Environment : Progress in Research and Applications. New York : Wiley and Sons, 1984.

LAVY, Brendan L., et al. “Media Portrayal of Gentrification and Redevelopment on Rainey Street in Austin, Texas (USA), 2000–2014.” City, Culture and Society, vol. 7, n° 4, 2016, p. 197-207.

LEES, Loretta, SLATER, Tom, et WYLY, Elvin. Gentrification. New York : Routledge, 2008.

LOCHARD, Guy et BOYER, Henri. Scènes de télévision en banlieue 1950–1994. Paris : L’Harmattan, 1998.

MAKAGON, Daniel. “Bring on the Shock Troops: Artists and Gentrification in the Popular Press.” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, vol. 7, n°1, 2010, p. 26-52.

MAIGRET, Éric, et MACE, Éric. Penser les médiacultures: nouvelles pratiques et nouvelles approches de la représentation du monde, Paris, Armand Colin INA (coll. « Médiacultures »), 2005, 186 p.

MCQUIRE, Scott. The Media City: Media, Architecture and Urban Space, Theory, Culture & Society, 2008

MELE, Christopher. Selling the Lower East Side : Culture, real estate, and resistance in New York City. Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, 2000.

MODAN, Gabriella et WELLS, Katie. “Representation of Change : Gentrification in the Media.” In Capital Dilemma: Growth and Inequality in Washington, edited by Derek Hyra, and Sabiyha Prince, Routledge, 2015.

RUCKS-AHIDIANA, Zawadi. “Race and Class in the News : How the Media Portrays Gentrification”. UC Berkeley : Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, 2018.

SLATER, Tom. “The eviction of critical perspectives from gentrification research”. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, vol. 30, n°4, 2006, p. 737-757.

SMITH, Neil. The New Urban Frontier : Gentrification and the revanchist city. New York : Routledge, 2006.


  • Salle du Conseil - la Maison de la Recherche de Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle, au 4 rue des Irlandais
    Paris, France (75)


  • Friday, February 19, 2021


  • ville, média, gentrification, acteur, discours, représentation


  • Jérémie Derhi
    courriel : jeremiederhi [at] hotmail [dot] fr
  • Marie-Pierre Vincent
    courriel : mariepierrelvincent [at] gmail [dot] com

Information source

  • Jérémie Derhi
    courriel : jeremiederhi [at] hotmail [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« The City, the Media and Gentrification: Actors, Discourses and Representations », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Friday, January 15, 2021, https://calenda.org/831317

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