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Diversity of a Different Kind: Gentrification and Its Impact on Social Capital and Political Participation in Black Communities

  • Benjamin J. Newman (a1), Yamil Velez (a2) and Shanna Pearson-Merkowitz (a3)


The literature examining the effect of residential integration on political behavior primarily focuses on how whites react to the entrance of non-whites into their communities. Over the past few decades however, the process of “white return” to urban centers throughout the nation has created the opportunity to invert the standard approach to studying racial context by exploring how minorities react to the entrance of whites into their communities. We adapt realistic conflict theories to the case of gentrification, and offer a model of the effect of white in-migration on social capital (SC) and political engagement in black communities. We demonstrate that white population growth erodes SC in black neighborhoods only where the larger surrounding community is majority black, and where such growth is accompanied by rising housing costs. Further, we find that residing in a gentrifying context, by eroding social capital, ultimately results in the political demobilization of black citizens.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Benjamin J. Newman, University of California Riverside, CA. E-mail:


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