Gentrification and Politics. Political measures against gentrification using the example of Graz and Hamburg

Essay, 2017

9 Pages, Grade: 1





3.2 Case study: Hamburg
3.3 Case Study: Graz
3.4 Hamburg vs. Graz




Gentrification is a happening in cities and districts all over the world, but what actions do policymakers take against it? This papers aim is to find political measures against Gentrification using the example of Graz and Hamburg and by comparing those two cities. Upfront I started a literature research, which led me to the following research question:

- Is it possible to counteract Gentrification trough social housing?

Gentrification is a multifaceted process, whereby the social reality of a whole district changes and social classes are displaced. Regarding this topic, I defined two theses, which will be tested trough literature research:

- Policymakers are able to counteract Gentrification trough social housing
- The process of Gentrification is influencable trough social housing projects


To answer the research question and to test the drafted theses, I conducted a literature research. I looked at both cities Graz and Hamburg and tried to find measures against Gentrification.

At first I am going to explain two terms which are leaving room for interpretation. The next chapter involves with Gentrification in general, as well as the two case-studies: Graz and Hamburg. Moreover, the attempt of a comparison of those two cities has been made.


In this chapter I am going to explain two terms, which are important for this paper. Since this two terms are leaving room for interpretation, it is essential to define those in advance.


The term “Gentrification” was shaped by the sociologist Ruth Glass in 1964. In her work, she focused on social changes in the London district Islington, where she characterized the term. She deduced it from the word “gentry”, which means as much as the upper class (Beaufils, 2010). In this paper, Gentrification, will be understand as:

“A process of social change where by social transition occurs as lower-income groups are progressively replaced in inner-city neighbourhoods by middle-income groups who reinvest and revitalize the inner city” (Ley, 1996)


Social Housing is a state founded housing with standardized flats at affordable prices. The aim is to provide homes for those who are not able to afford one. Social Housing needs to provide homes with a certain quality standard and furthermore, the tenant has a right of co-determination (Rosemann, 2000).


The following chapter will explain, how Gentrification works and how Hamburg and Graz are dealing with the process of Gentrification. Furthermore, I tried to compare the two cities Hamburg and Graz.


Gentrification is a multifaceted process, which is divided into the four following phases. In phase one so-called “Pioneers” are looking for cheap habitation in a dingy quarter. Thereby these “Pioneers” are often using old business premises as studios. Once settled they start to invigorate the public sphere and create new spaces for personal encounters and cultural exchange and therefore a revaluation process starts. It should be noted that a revaluation process is not mandatory the start of a Gentrification process (Laimer & Rauth, 2014). Merging into phase two where the neighbourhood is now an insider tip, which means an area that is increasingly becoming a trendsetting district, where one can find new trending bars and shops. The demand for apartments increases and in further consequences the house-owners start to renovate their property which leads to an increasing rent in the neighbourhood (ibid). Now the process has reached the third phase, where the trendsetting district reaches the focus of the public and real estate companies. They start to buy properties in the district and are trying to sell them to higher-income classes, with a higher price. In consequence the rent starts to raise and it gets so high that the lower-income groups are not able to afford it anymore. The original population has no other option than to move away, into another cheaper area (ibid). In the final phase, the district is gentrified and the rent is unaffordable for the inhabitants who used to live in the district. Furthermore new businesses and big firms are now located in the district and the original population has been largely replaced by a new income group (ibid.).

3.2 Case study: Hamburg

Hamburg is, with 1,86 million citizens, the second biggest city of Germany. It is divides in to seven districts and 104 quarters (Hamburg, 2017). When it comes to Gentrification, Hamburg is highly affected, but it also has the reputation that it deals with it in an exemplary way (Schendel, 2001). Gentrification is an everyday topic in the public debate as in the political debate and it mutated into an political slogan within the public debate. Furthermore it developed to a key ideal of a corporate city politics (Koch, 2011). One have to know that Gentrification is a hot topic, in Hamburg, but the public debate happens on eye level from all sides and actors. Since Hamburg operates a neoliberal urban policy, it tries to practice urban development trough big construction projects and the displacement effect was identified very late, but still, the city reacted quick on the increasing social polarization. They tried to react, with a program called “Soziale Stadtentwicklung” (Social Urban Development), to social woes (ibid). Therefore, the city started a soft urban renewal. Every year the Senate of Hamburg offers 100 million euros of state subsidies for new rented flats (Hamburg, 2017). Furthermore an action group, called “Es regent Kavier” (It rains caviar), startet to devaluate the neighbourhood by soiling the district all over again (Es regnet Kavier, 2010). Since 2011, Hamburg, supported more than 12.000 social housing projects.

3.3 Case Study: Graz

When we talk about Gentrification in Graz, we talk about a small district called “Lend”. “Lend” is the 4th District of Graz and Graz is a city in Austria. The district used to be the home of the poorest, but evolved now to a trendsetting quarter (Lange, Prasenc , & Saiko, 2013). But how does the city deal with Gentrification? Nowadays, city officals often attempt to avoid the term Gentrification (Wagenröder, 2016). Since it appears to be a very negative term.

In Graz the city management is very pleased with the renewal in Lend, but they do not ignore Gentrification. The city has conducted a survey examining social developments and quality of life in areas that seem to be affected by Gentrification. In the report, policymakers address the issue of Gentrification in “Lend” (ibid). Lend has induced positive economic developments, but the redevelopment led to an increase in rental prices.

Regarding social housing a report called “Wohnungsbericht der Stadt Graz 2016” (residential report if the city Graz 2016), says that 6,7 %, of all apartments in Graz, are social housing projects. Since 2007 tries to enlarge those. This report also says that the most difficult challenge is to provide housing for immigrants, families with a lot of children and people with a low income, but exactly these people need social housing the most. Those are the parties affected by Gentrification (Hagauer et al, 2016)

3.4 Hamburg vs. Graz

It seems that a comparison of Hamburg and Graz proves to be difficult, because the Gentrification runs in both city’s completely different. In Graz, it happens to be in a much smaller scale than in Hamburg.

If one takes a closer look at Hamburg, it seems that the public debate is more presence than in Graz. Although the policymakers are aware of the Gentrification in Lend, they tend to ignore the problem (Wagenröder, 2016). In Hamburg, the debate around Gentrification is present and policymakers perceived and they are trying to work against it, by financing social housing (Schendel, 2001). It must me mentioned that Gentrification works in a totally different way in Hamburg than in Graz, because Hamburg is so much bigger. In consequence, there are more different quarters and Gentrification happens in several of those. In Graz, there is only Lend and Lend is very small, but the problems with displacement are of course the same. In both cities Hamburg and Graz, social housing is happening, whereby Hamburg has more social housing projects than Graz (Hagauer, 2016). The city of Hamburg is trying to, revaluate neigbourhoods, by doing a careful urban reveal and the public debate around Gentrification is always presence. In contrast to it stands Graz, where the policymakers are aware of Gentrification happening, but they are not handling it as an important topic. The debate, in Graz, is led by those who are affected by Gentrification. The so-called pioneers, who are often responsible for the start of Gentrification, but they are also always in a constant fight against Gentrification.


Excerpt out of 9 pages


Gentrification and Politics. Political measures against gentrification using the example of Graz and Hamburg
University of Vienna
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
545 KB
gentrification, politics, political, graz, hamburg
Quote paper
Theresia Reiner (Author), 2017, Gentrification and Politics. Political measures against gentrification using the example of Graz and Hamburg, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Gentrification and Politics. Political measures against gentrification using the example of Graz and Hamburg

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free