Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology, Applied

First Advisor

Russell Schutt

Second Advisor

Andrea Leverentz

Third Advisor

Philip Kretsedemas


This is an ethnographic study of Somerville, MA highlighting the political process and material stakes of gentrification, through 11 in-depth interviews and participant observations at public meetings and events. The gentrification literature often highlights the cultural narratives of residents experiencing community change. Cultural narratives are the stories people tell about themselves and where they live. This study seeks to examine the distinction between how residents frame themselves and how the local government frames its residents. How are residents culturally framed in Somerville? What role does the local government play in gentrification? How does Somerville's government symbolize its residents, and for what ends? Gentrification is a set of political decisions that shape the character and ultimate outcome of development. The cultural narratives often obscure the political process because the authenticity generated and promoted by the local government does not fully articulate how residents and social groups feel about gentrification.


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