Gentrification ‘Research’ and the Academic Nobility: A Different Class?


This essay is a response to Tom Slater’s article ‘The eviction of critical perspectives from gentrification research’. My essay addresses two issues. First, I consider the issue of why gentrification research appears to be losing its critical edge. I argue that social position infects understanding and, inevitably therefore, academic knowledge production. Thus the social proximity of the academic nobility to gentrifiers (and social distance between the academic nobility and the displaced) has epistemological consequences, notably, the lack of critical perspectives in gentrification research. Second, Slater’s paper appears to be an appeal for more ‘critical’ research from the academic nobility. Perhaps we should go even further. We should actually question the epistemic authority of the academic nobility, which claims its legitimacy to speak about gentrification on the grounds that it undertakes ‘research’ into the phenomenon. There are strong and sound epistemological reasons for also listening to the marginalized voices of people that have ‘first hand’ (albeit not ‘research’) experience of the negative effects of gentrification.