International Development Planning Review

Conceptualising gentrification: relevance of gentrification research in the Indian context

International Development Planning Review (2021), 43, (4), 461–478.


The concept of gentrification, originally proposed by Ruth Glass on the basis of her observations of neighbourhood change in London, has been reconceptualised as well as criticised by scholars over the years. Though the concept has travelled over time and space, it still remains a very anglophone concept, and the extent of its applicability in the global South has been questioned. Especially in a country like India, where urban development takes place in an uneven way, it may not always be sufficient in itself to understand these urban changes and the dispossessions they lead to. This article aims to throw light on the main gentrification theories and debates and engage with the issue of differences over conceptualisation of the term itself. It then evaluates the relevance of the concept of gentrification in India by examining the restricted use of the term by Indian academics and Indian print media, and explores alternate/complementary frameworks to capture diverse instances of urban dispossession.

Access Token
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here


Atkinson, R. (2003) ‘Introduction: misunderstood saviour or vengeful wrecker? The many meanings and problems of gentrification’, Urban Studies, 40(12), 2343-2350. Google Scholar

Banda, S. and Sheikh, S. (2014) ‘The case of Sonia Gandhi Camp: the process of eviction and demolition in Delhi’s Jhuggi Jhopri Clusters’, April, Centre for Policy Research, (accessed 4 November 2019). Google Scholar

Bannerjee-Guha, S. (2009) ‘Neoliberalising the “urban”: new geographies of power and injustice in Indian cities’, Economic and Political Weekly, 44(22), 95-107. Google Scholar

Bernt, M. (2016) ‘Very particular or rather universal? Gentrification through the lenses of Ghertner and López-Morales’, City, 20(4), 637-644. Google Scholar

Bhan, G. (2009) ‘“This is no longer the city I once knew”: evictions, urban poor, and the right to the city in millennial Delhi’, Environment and Urbanization, 21(1), 127-142. Google Scholar

Blumer, H. (1954) ‘What is wrong with social theory?’, American Sociological Review, 19(1), 3-10. Google Scholar

Bowen, G. A. (2006) ‘Grounded theory and sensitising concepts’, International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 5(3), 12-23. Google Scholar

Chang, T. C. (2016) ‘New uses need old buildings: gentrification aesthetics and the arts in Singapore’, Urban Studies, 53(3), 524-539. Google Scholar

Choi, N. (2016) ‘Metro Manila through the gentrification lens: disparities in urban planning and displacement risks’, Urban Studies, 53(3), 577-592. Google Scholar

Clark, E. (2005) ‘The order and simplicity of gentrification: a political challenge’, in R. Atkinson and G. Bridge (eds), Gentrification in a Global Context: the New Urban Colonialism, London, Routledge, 261-269. Google Scholar

Davidson, M. and Lees, L. (2005) ‘New-build gentrification and London’s riverside renaissance’, Environment and Planning A, 37(7), 1165-1190. Google Scholar

Desai, R. (2012) ‘Governing the urban poor: riverfront development, slum resettlement and the politics of inclusion in Ahmedabad’, Economic and Political Weekly, 47(2), 49-56. Google Scholar

Dey, I., Samddar, R. and Sen, S. K. (2013) Beyond Kolkata: Rajarhat and the Dystopia of Urban Imagination, New Delhi, Routledge. Google Scholar

Diwakar G, D. and Peter, V. (2016) ‘Resettlement of urban poor in Chennai, Tamil Nadu: concerns in R&R policy and urban housing programme’, Journal of Land and Rural Studies, 4(1), 97-110. Google Scholar

Doshi, S. (2015) ‘Rethinking gentrification in India: displacement, dispossession and the spectre of development’, in L. Lees, H. B. Shin and E. L. López-Morales (eds), Global Gentrifications: Uneven Development and Displacement, Bristol, Policy Press, 101-119. Google Scholar

DRAN (Displacement Research and Action Network) (2014) ‘The geography of post-eviction resettlement in Delhi, India’, 12 December, DRAN, (accessed 2 November 2019). Google Scholar

Dupont, V. (2008) ‘Slum demolitions in Delhi since the 1990s: an appraisal’, Economic and Political Weekly, 43(28), 79-87. Google Scholar

Fernandes, W. and Bharali, G. (2011) Uprooted for Whose Benefit? Development-induced Displacement in Assam, Guwahati, North Eastern Social Science Research Centre. Google Scholar

Ghertner, D. A. (2014) ‘India’s urban revolution: geographies of displacement beyond gentrification’, Environment and Planning A, 46(7), 1554-1571. Google Scholar

Ghertner, D. A. (2015) ‘Why gentrification theory fails in “much of the world”’, City, 19(4), 552-563. Google Scholar

Glass, R. (1964) London: Aspects of Change, London, MacGibbon and Kee. Google Scholar

Hamnett, C. (1991) ‘The blind men and the elephant: the explanation of gentrification’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 16(2), 173-189. Google Scholar

Harish, S. and Vasudev, E. (2019) ‘Housing crisis, untouched’, 1 October 2019, The Hindu, (accessed 6 October 2019). Google Scholar

Harris, A. (2008) ‘From London to Mumbai and back again: gentrification and public policy in comparative perspective’, Urban Studies, 45(12), 2407-2428. Google Scholar

The Hindu (2017) ‘Saving charm of old Kolkata’, 1 April 2017, (accessed 14 October 2017). Google Scholar

Hindustan Times (2016) ‘Who owns Mumbai? There are patterns but no clear answers’, 24 August 2016, (accessed 12 October 2017). Google Scholar

Hindustan Times (2017) ‘Luxury apartments are springing up in urban areas. But where do the urban poor go?’, 7 April 2017, (accessed 14 October 2017). Google Scholar

HLRN (Housing and Land Rights Network) (2019) Forced Evictions in India in 2018: An Unabating National Crisis, (accessed 27 November 2019). Google Scholar

The Indian Express (2016) ‘The city that Ahmed Shah built’, 26 February 2016, (accessed 12 October 2017). Google Scholar

Kamat, S. (2011) ‘Neoliberalism, urbanism and the education economy: producing Hyderabad as a “global city”’, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 32(2), 187-202. Google Scholar

La Grange, A. and Pretorius, F. (2016) ‘State-led gentrification in Hong Kong’, Urban Studies, 53(3), 506-523. Google Scholar

Lees, L. (1994) ‘Rethinking gentrification: beyond the positions of economics or culture’, Progress in Human Geography, 18(2), 137-150. Google Scholar

Lees, L. (2012) ‘The geography of gentrification: thinking through comparative urbanism’, Progress in Human Geography, 36(2), 155-171. Google Scholar

Lees, L., Shin H. B. and López-Morales, E. (eds) (2016), Planetary Gentrification, Cambridge, Polity Press. Google Scholar

Ley, D. (1986) ‘Alternative explanations for inner-city gentrification: a Canadian assessment’, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 76(4), 521-535. Google Scholar

Ley, D. and Teo, S. Y. (2014) ‘Gentrification in Hong Kong? Epistemology vs. ontology’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 38(4), 1286-1303. Google Scholar

López-Morales, E. (2016) ‘Gentrification in the global South’, City, 19(4), 564-573. Google Scholar

Lützeler, R. (2008) ‘Population increase and “new-build gentrification” in Central Tokyo’, Erdkunde, 62(4), 287-299. Google Scholar

Maloutas, T. (2012) ‘Contextual diversity in gentrification research’, Critical Sociology, 38(1), 33-48. Google Scholar

McFarlane, C., Silver, J. and Truelove, Y. (2017) ‘Cities within cities: intra-urban comparison of infrastructure in Mumbai, Delhi and Cape Town’, Urban Geography, 38(9), 1393-1417. Google Scholar

Negi, N. S. and Ganguly, S. (2011) ‘Development projects vs. internally displaced populations in India: a literature based appraisal’ (COMCAD Working Paper Series No. 103), Bielefeid, COMCAD. Google Scholar

Patel, S., Sliuzas, R. and Mathur, N. (2015) ‘The risk of impoverishment in urban development-induced displacement and resettlement in Ahmedabad’, Environment and Urbanization, 27(1), 231-256. Google Scholar

Pow, C. P. (2015) ‘Urban dystopia and epistemologies of hope’, Progress in Human Geography, 39(4), 464-485. Google Scholar

Ramakrishnan, K. (2014) ‘Disrupted futures: unpacking metaphors of marginalisation in eviction and resettlement narratives’, Antipode, 46(3), 754-772. Google Scholar

Randhawa, P. S. (2013) ‘From citizen’s right to consumer choice Delhi’s transportation revolution (1990-2004)’ (unpublished PhD thesis), New Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Google Scholar

Redfern, P. A. (2003) ‘What makes gentrification “gentrification”?’, Urban Studies, 40(12), 2351-2366. Google Scholar

Robinson, J. (2011) ‘Cities in a world of cities: the comparative gesture’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 35(1), 1-23. Google Scholar

Shaw, A. and Saharan, T. (2019) ‘Urban development-induced displacement and quality of life in Kolkata’, Environment and Urbanization, 31(2), 597-614. Google Scholar

Shaw, K. (2010) ‘Teaching and learning guide for gentrification: what is it, why is it, and what can be done about it’, Geography Compass, 4(4), 383-387. Google Scholar

Shin, H. B. (2016) ‘Economic transition and speculative urbanisation in China: gentrification versus dispossession’, Urban Studies, 53(3), 471-489. Google Scholar

Slater, T. (2006) ‘The eviction of critical perspectives from gentrification research’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 30(4), 737-757. Google Scholar

Slater, T. (2011) ‘Gentrification of the city’, in G. Bridge and S. Watson (eds), The New Blackwell Companion to the City, Chichester, Blackwell, 571-585. Google Scholar

Slater, T. (2015) ‘Planetary rent gaps’, Antipode, 49(S1), 1-24. Google Scholar

Smith, N. (1979) ‘Toward a theory of gentrification a back to the city movement by capital, not people’, Journal of the American Planning Association, 45(4), 538-548. Google Scholar

Smith, N. (2002) ‘New globalism, new urbanism: gentrification as global urban strategy’, Antipode, 34(3), 427-450. Google Scholar

Song, W. and Wu, Q. (2010) ‘Gentrification and residential differentiation in Nanjing, China’, Chinese Geographical Science, 20(6), 568-576. Google Scholar

Times of India (2017) ‘Gentrification the biggest threat to world heritage city’, 30 July 2017, (accessed 9 October 2017). Google Scholar

Vijayalakshmi, M. (2016) ‘Implications of settlement status and housing moves in sites and services scheme in Chennai’ (unpublished PhD thesis), Chennai, Anna University, (accessed 8 October 2017). Google Scholar

Waley, P. (2016) ‘Speaking gentrification in the languages of the Global East’, Urban Studies, 53(3), 615-625. Google Scholar

Wang, J. and Lau, S. S. Y. (2009) ‘Gentrification and Shanghai’s new middle-class: another reflection on the cultural consumption thesis’, Cities, 26(2), 57-66. Google Scholar

Whiting, K. (2019) ‘The world’s 10 fastest growing cities are all in India’, 27 January 2019, Business Insider, (accessed 29 November 2019). Google Scholar

Wu, F. (2020) ‘Scripting Indian and Chinese spatial transformation: adding new narratives to gentrification and suburbanisation research’, Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, 38(6), 980-997. Google Scholar

Yip, N. M. and Tran, H. A. (2016) ‘Is “gentrification” an analytically useful concept for Vietnam? A case study of Hanoi’, Urban Studies, 53(3), 490-505. Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here


Author details

Das, Prerona