Online Conversations in Transitional Neighborhoods

“Gentrification” is the process of transformation of certain urban areas where residents of low socioeconomic status are displaced by those of high socioeconomic status. This complex process structuring the global urban landscape has been studied for over fifty years. Despite an explosion of ethnographies of gentrifying neighborhoods, few have analyzed how social media and online communication structure the forms of material and social exchange and social organization of communities in the midst of the attendant social transformations of gentrification. A thorough analysis of this discursive landscape is particularly salient given the recognition by scholars of links between gentrification and delimitations of public space and the increasing use of social media to organize local social lives, social space, and neighborhood change.

The objective of this study is to explore online communication about gentrification in one Chicago neighborhood and begin to identify patterns in online conversations as they are related to the dynamics of social interactions amongst residents. This study will provide insights into how to design technologies that bridge communication gaps amongst predecessors and newcomers.