Spatial Dislocation and Affective Displacement: Youth Perspectives on Gentrification in London


Analyses of contemporary processes of gentrification have been primarily produced from adult perspectives with little focus on how age affects or mediates urban change. However, in analysing young people’s responses to transformations in their neighbourhood we argue that there is evidence for a more complex relationship between ‘gentrifiers’ and residents than existing arguments of antagonism or tolerance would suggest. Using a participatory video methodology to document experiences of gentrification in the east London borough of Hackney, we found that young people involved in this study experienced their transforming city through processes of spatial dislocation and affective displacement. The former incorporated a sense of disorientation in the temporal disjunctions of the speed of change, while the latter invoked the embodiment of a sense of not belonging generated within classed and intercultural interactions. However, there are expressions of ambivalence rather than straightforward rejection. Benefits of gentrification were noted, including conditions of alterity and the possibility to transcend normative behaviours that they found uncomfortable. Young people demonstrated the capacity to reimagine their relationship with the complex spaces they call home. The findings suggest a need to reframe debates on gentrification to include a more nuanced understanding of its differential impact on young people.