by Massimiliano Tuveri
A process by which middle-class people take up residence in a traditionally working-class area of a city, changing the character of the area (Collins English Dictionary)
The so-called city renewal is advertised as an event able to benefit all its residents, but reality is often very different.
A series of problems dramatically emerge in the very contexts where, due to subsequent processes related to gentrification, the initial identity of the neighbourhood is gradually vanishing, and those that could seem to be transformational tensions actually hide serious inner conflicts.
The existence of urban movements and the constitution of local and residents’ associations are often the expression of an urban social fabric acting in order to defend the very neighbourhood, and the tangible sign that the resident social class feels threatened, reacting somehow to transformations perceived as more and more pressing and unstoppable.
Examples of this process in Rome are the neighbourhoods of Testaccio and Pigneto, areas where an artistic and cultural movement is particularly strong and lively, but where this renewal has not been actually accompanied by policies aiming at regenerating urban spaces; on the contrary, the neighbourhoods have been slowly and inexorably left to themselves. In a matters of years, the local population (mainly belonging to the working class) has decreased by 15%, while average rents have raised by almost 2%.
From a social point of view, then, gentrification tends to exclude instead of including.