Today, June 9 2021, Ingmar Pastak defended his PhD thesis
„Gentrification and displacement of long-term residents in post-industrial neighbourhoods of Tallinn“.
Associate Professor Anneli Kährik (University of Tartu)
Professor Tiit Tammaru (University of Tartu)
Professor Zoltán Kovács (Szeged University, Hungary)
This thesis focuses on the process of gentrification in post-industrial neighbourhoods. Gentrification is classically defined as the displacement of long-term local residential tenants as a result of rising property prices. The focus is on tenants because owners are not usually subject to price pressures when they own their own property. Recently, a growing number of scholars have taken up the challenge of applying the theory outside its initial context. For example, it has been observed that in many Eastern European cities the similar processes of in-migration of people with a higher socio-economic status and an out-migration of long-term residents subsequently take place. The share of the rental market in Eastern Europe, however, is considerably smaller. This has led to a debate about whether there is any need to re-consider the mechanisms behind and causes of gentrification. It has been theorised that displacement pressures also apply indirectly to long-term residents as a result of local identity changes, or changes in local business and community life, and the disruption of historic connections. This thesis focuses on the process of housing and property market-induced indirect displacement in the post-industrial neighbourhoods of Tallinn. The aims of this thesis are therefore twofold. Firstly, it aims to understand the commercial and social mechanisms that are applied by the housing revitalisation of post-industrial neighbourhoods and their relation with the process of gentrification; and secondly the process of displacement in the housing market for home owners. The results of this thesis show that the commercial transformation of a residential neighbourhood is closely related to local residential changes. Local neighbourhood change is driven largely by active place-making narratives which are related to lifestyle and eco-friendly products, modern urban living, and a search for an authentic environment. The dominant narratives of change which are created by new residents and entrepreneurs have changed local community life, meeting places, and local commerce. Long-term residents benefit from the increasing value of property but lose their historical connection with place, social networks, and legitimacy in terms of place-making. Although such a form of displacement is not ‘violent’ it needs attention because its outcome is the socio-spatial exclusion of various population groups. It also can lead to the later out-migration of long-term residents.