Recently we finished a research project, applying an assemblage approach to the process of gentrification in the Fashion Quarter (Klarendal) in Arnhem. Of course gentrification has been investigated already for more than thirty years, and there is a large body of knowledge about it. In the literature one usually finds two different competing perspectives on gentrification. One which assumes that the driving force behind gentrification is mainly economic speculation, resulting in rising living costs and displacement of original inhabitants. One could say that that is the “it’s the economy stupid” hypothesis. On the other hand we have the scholars who support the hypothesis that gentrification is mainly the effect of a cultural development, making these places attractive for a specific class of people such as hipsters, Yups, and creative class people. That could be denoted as the “it is the culture stupid” hypothesis. More research of the same kind would probably only reproduce these positions and not contribute much new. In our opinion, however, reality is a bit more complex, and especially if one wants to lead the process of gentrification into a more sustainable and just direction, we need to know more about these complexities. Therefore we chose an assemblage approach and tried to get rid of the usual blinkers of the traditional gentrification research. The research showed to be revealing, and also suggests, that gentrification policies, need to take a much more experimental trial and error approach, working in small steps on the ‘configuration’ of all the different elements and relations contributing to the process, in stead of the often reductionist and simplistic ‘if-you-do-this-than-that-will-happen’-approach.
Recently a series of popularising articles (in Dutch), authored by the researchers of our project, about gentrification in the Fashion Quarter in Arnhem have appeared in the glossy journal ‘geografie’ published by the Royal Dutch Geographical Society (KNAG).