First Advisor

Lee J. Haggerty

Term of Graduation

Summer 1994

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Sociology






Gentrification -- Oregon -- Portland, Neighborhoods -- Oregon -- Portland, Gentrification -- Social aspects



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, ix, 103 pages)


Since the late 1960s and early 1970s, many American cities experienced the process of gentrification, and there are many studies based on data from this time period. A first purpose of this study was to follow up on the development of gentrification in the 1980s. Northwest Portland, Oregon, is culturally clearly defined as a gentrifying neighborhood and was, therefore, chosen as to empirically assess this process by comparing the 1980 with the 1990 census data.

There is some theoretical confusion about the concept of gentrification. There is, however, general consensus on two aspects. The first is a physical renovation of old and run-down inner-city neighborhoods, and the second is a change in the demographic composition of the revitalizing neighborhood from low and middle to upper-middle and high status residents. One aspect of gentrification is largely ignored by empirical studies, but often assumed to flow from physical renovation and compositional change, i.e, an alteration in the fabric of social life in the gentrified area, in patterns of interaction and symbolic attachment. It was a second purpose of this study to explore this issue on the basis of longitudinal survey data collected in the Northwest neighborhood in 1978 and 1993.

The census analysis showed that the demographic change in Northwest Portland was surprisingly consistent with Gale's original stage model of gentrification from 1980, but not with predictions for more recent times. The analysis of the survey data showed a lack of overall change in the interactional and symbolic fabric of community life. T-tests for distinct life-cycle stages and socioeconomic status showed a perception of the Northwest neighborhood as a nicer and safer place for all groups. The young were found to form a community consistent with the model of a "community of limited liability." Specifically for older and high income residents it is proposed that the demographic change, which made the neighborhood more status homogeneous, had an important socially integrating impact, consistent with Claude Fischer's notion of "critical mass" creating viable subcultures, since they were found, in opposition to common expectations, to have increased attachment and social contacts in the neighborhood.


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