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  • Toward a Sociological Understanding of Gentrification in Russia: Making Sense of Neighbourhood Change (the Case of Southern Butovo)

Student
Title
Supervisor
Faculty
Educational Programme
Final Grade
Year of Graduation
Daria Dementeva
Toward a Sociological Understanding of Gentrification in Russia: Making Sense of Neighbourhood Change (the Case of Southern Butovo)
Sociology
(Bachelor’s programme)
2019
Gentrification becomes a widespread urban phenomenon, typical for the bulk of West European and American cities. Gentrification is a gradual process of urban change such that involves the upscaling of the residential built environment, the upgrading of local amenities and services, transformation of the social character of the previously disadvantaged neighbourhood (Glass, 1964).

Post-socialist cities are exposed to gentrification as well. Moscow can be considered as a gentrifying city due to the intensive in-migration and current urban policy agenda. The academic scholarship on gentrification in West European and the US contexts is incredibly developed.

To date, the sociological account of gentrification is indeed limited. Little has been done on studying subjective experiences of gentrification, the interaction between residential old-timers and newcomers and displacement. Consequently, there is no empirical evidence on the subjective experiences of gentrification in the Russian context, in particular.

This thesis addresses the following research question: how gentrifiers and non-gentrifiers living together in a particular previously disadvantaged neighbourhood in Moscow make sense of gentrification and how gentrification affects them? To interpret it sociologically, we refer to the theory of the established and the outsider groups, introduced by Norbert Elias and John Scotson.

To answer our research question, we opt for a single case study research design. In our thesis, we selected Southern Butovo neighbourhood as a case. Firstly, it is generally considered to possess a historically low residential prestige. Secondly, it is the most affordable neighbourhood in terms of rental and property prices. Thirdly, Southern Butovo undergoes the formation of affluent gated communities.

Methodologically, we rely on multiple data collection techniques, including semi-structured interviews, non-participant observation and archival records. In this thesis, we primarily apply the narrative analysis of interviews and qualitative content analysis of archival data.

The obtained results show how differently the Russian gentrifiers and non-gentrifiers make sense of gentrification in their neighbourhood. Considerable insight has been gained with regards to the peculiarity of gentrification in the Russian urban context.

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