Geografie 2015, 120, 251-274

Beyond gentrification: Diversified neighbourhood upgrading in the inner city of Budapest

Zoltán Kovács1,2, Reinhard Wiessner3, Romy Zischner3

1Department of Economic and Social Geography, University of Szeged, Hungary
2Institute of Geography, Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary
3Institute of Geography, University of Leipzig, Germany

Received July 2014
Accepted April 2015

The concept of gentrification has been extensively used in post-socialist context in association with neighbourhood renewal processes, despite the exact meaning of the term and its social effects not always being sufficiently clarified. This paper builds upon empirical research from downtown Budapest. Our investigation primarily focused on the interplay of three groups of stakeholders involved in urban renewal: politicians, investors and residents. On the basis of our multi-dimensional analysis, we could identify three main types of upgrading: classical gentrification (with two sub-types), as well as incumbent upgrading and soft forms of revitalisation. In the studied neighbourhoods, a mixture of these forms of upgrading could be identified, reflecting a diversified rejuvenation. Gentrification was spatially limited to poverty ridden neighbourhoods subject to local government organised regeneration programmes. The predominance of soft forms of revitalisation is a function of housing market mechanisms as well as the planning control of local districts, which in general together create a healthy social mix despite pervasive regeneration activities.


This research was supported by a grant from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (OTKA) Grant Agreement No. K 105534, “Spatial Pattern of Post-socialist Urbanisation in Hungary”.


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