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Call for papers for the Conference: “The City, the Media and Gentrification: Actors, Discourses and Representations” at the Sorbonne University (3,4) – Paris (FR).


The contributors will be invited to present their work on May 28th and 29th, 2021 at:

– Maison de la Recherche of Paris 4 Sorbonne Université, 28 rue Serpente, Paris, room D035

– Maison de la Recherche of Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle, 4 rue des Irlandais, Paris, room Salle du Conseil.


The city, and more widely the urban space, is extensively represented in the media and has become a topic of interest for several studies (Henri Boyer and Guy Lochard, 1998, McQuire 2008). However, the connections between gentrification and the media is a recent research field which has not yet been thoroughly explored. Gentrification as “a physical, economic, social and cultural phenomenon” (Hamnett, 1984) which corresponds to “the transformation of a working class or vacant area of the central city into middle-class residential and/or commercial use ”(Lees, Slater & Wyly, 2008, p. xv) is linked to the world of the media, that is to say, the guidelines and the power relations to which it is subjected within the public and the media spheres. The media are also likely to support the construction of representations – defined as the modus operandi of common knowledge, thought and social practices – of gentrification and play an essential role in the way they put contentious issues on the agenda (Gerstlé 2008) to the extent that the term “gentrification” has become a “formula” (Fijalkow, 2017).

Starting from the assumption that the media are transmitters of speeches and representations, this conference aims to assess their role as actors within the sphere (Macé 2005) in the field of gentrification. The term “media” can be understood in its broadest sense, as all media are likely to address the issue of gentrification. We will consider, without any limitation, traditional media (print, radio, television), new media (extensions of traditional media, including digital press, podcasts, blogs, etc.) and social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.). It will involve discussing possible disciplinary articulations (sociological, architectural, urban, linguistics, etc.) between the media and the gentrification process.

Since the late 1990s, researchers have concluded that the media present gentrification in a positive way (Smith 1996, Mele 2000, Slater 2006 among others), yet it was not until the 2010s that the body of research on gentrification and the media expanded. In 2010, in line with previous results, Daniel Makagon concluded that (inter)national media coverage (between 1985 and 2008 in the United States and Canada) on gentrification by artists was relatively homogeneous (Makagon 2017). The artists were represented as both pioneers and victims of gentrification. This victim status made it possible to maintain bohemian spaces within cities, for young, white artists faced with sterile urban revitalization which contributes to the stigmatization of the multi-ethnic populations already present. A year later, in 2011, Brown-Saracino and Rumpf’s article “Diverse imageries of gentrification” marked a turning point. Her work challenged the argument that media coverage of gentrification is homogeneous and is based on the largest study – in terms of corpus – ever conducted on the subject. Its groundbreaking feature lay in the extent of media coverage, since it encompassed nine newspapers in seven American cities from 1986 to 2006. It concluded that the journalistic coverage of gentrification was much more diverse than what the literature on gentrification had previously suggested. It also demonstrated that media concern or support for gentrification varied according to the phases of gentrification and the characteristics of both long-time residents and gentrifiers.

Beyond this pioneering work, a few subsequent publications revealed a significantly different observation, however, without exhausting the subject. Some researchers have claimed that gentrification is represented as a natural process (Modan, Wells, 2015; Lavy, Dascher & Hagelman 2016) and in a positive light (Rucks-Ahidiana 2018). If the question of the representation of gentrification in the newspapers was brought to the forefront of the academia, other problems have been raised, such as the journalistic coverage of anti-gentrification movements (Gin, Taylor 2010) or the link between gentrification and social media. One of the weaknesses of the literature lies in the lack of diversity of the geographical areas, targeting mostly cities of the US, except for the seminal work on the role of journalists – in particular on David Brooks’s famous work (Brooks 2000) and also on the French press – in the rise of the term “bobo” (Authier, Collet et al. 2018). Consequently, it appears necessary to explore other avenues of research from a multidisciplinary perspective, by renewing both the studied corpora and research questions.

Proposals would therefore be particularly welcome on the following themes:

Theme 1. The framing of gentrification in the media: evolutions, power relations and receptions

This axis aims to assess, over time, the way in which media coverage of gentrification frames certain facts and impacts, while making others invisible. It will consider the different definitions of gentrification at work and their synonyms taken up by the media. For instance, the French media use the term “bobos” or even “boboisation” (Authier, Collet et al. 2018), while the Anglo-Saxon media coverage favors the term “hipster”. This vast lexical field around gentrification (regeneration, hipsters, bobos, yuppies, among so many others) reveals power relationships that may be analyzed. Moreover, the renewal of media forms and genres calls into question the staging of gentrification through, for example, TV shows on the sale and purchase of real estate, for which the audience is quite significant. Finally, the question of framing also invites us to think about the reception, i.e. how the multiple recipients of these media receive and use these framings.

Theme 2. The social anchoring of media actors on gentrification and the social impact of gentrification on the media

The media actors of gentrification reflect the diversity of the media themselves. A non-exhaustive list of these actors could include journalists, political representatives or public or private organizations and associations, urban planning officials, academics who popularize their research, or citizens. These actors all have a social anchor in relation to gentrification. We could ask to what extent and in what way(s) this social anchoring impacts the speeches and representations of the media on gentrification. The diversity of these actors means going beyond the sociology of journalism (although this part is included).

This question invites either jointly or separately to reflect on the social impact of gentrification on the media. Indeed, gentrification can be the catalyst for new media discourse, or even new media. They can then either endorse the phenomenon and reach an audience qualified as gentrifiers, or on the contrary, denounce it.

Theme 3. Anti-gentrification protest movements and the media: representations and invisibilization

This axis is in line with the results of the article on media coverage of anti-gentrification movements (Gin, Taylor 2010). This article described factors that influenced the ability of anti-gentrification movements to obtain media coverage of their main political objectives (from 1995 to 2005). In this sense, some questions can be raised: To what extent and in what ways can the gentrification protest movements get media coverage? To what extent do protest movements succeed in obtaining media coverage of their main political objectives? Finally, to what extent can the media themselves be catalysts for anti-gentrification protest movements?

Proposals that reflect geographic fields, times and varied scales will be given priority in the selection of papers. Interdisciplinary approaches are strongly encouraged (social science, history, geography, sociology of the media, information and communication sciences, urban studies, etc.).


Deadline: 19 February 2021.

Please submit an abstract of 300 words (in French or English – the final papers will be ideally in English but the discussions will be imperatively in English) with a short biblio-biography to the conference organizers

Given the current climate of uncertainty, we feel the need to add the following. Should some speakers be held back in their country of residence next May due to travelling restrictions, we would arrange for video-conferencing so they could still participate from a distance.


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