Young families and children in gentrifying neighbourhoods: how gentrification reshapes use and perception of green play spaces

Emilia Oscilowicz*, Jordi Honey-Rosés, Isabelle Anguelovski, Margarita Triguero-Mas, Helen Cole

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


It has been well established that gentrification can undermine access to green amenities for socially vulnerable residents through socio-cultural or physical displacement from working-class and minority neighbourhoods. However, in the growing literature on environmental gentrification, little attention has been given to the impacts of gentrification on young families and children, especially in neighbourhood green spaces where children socialise and play. Using observational methods, surveys and interviews, we assessed perceptions and use of green play spaces in two neighbourhoods of Barcelona at different stages of gentrification. One neighbourhood suffers from advanced residential, commercial and tourism-led gentrification (La Ribera) while the other (Poblenou) experiences more recent gentrification. We find that advanced and more complex processes of gentrification are more likely to be associated with dissatisfaction of public space and less use by children and families. We also observe lower levels of trust, increased delinquency and a greater sense of insecurity. In contrast, early-stage gentrification is linked to new place relations and attachment around green play spaces that are highly used by children and their families. Yet, our research also shows that neighbourhood gains in terms of increased access and use of green play spaces might be short-lived as residents there point to fear of displacement. Our findings thus reveal how gentrification can operate to offer short-term green benefits but possible long-term losses for socially vulnerable families in gentrifying neighbourhoods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)765-786
Number of pages22
JournalLocal Environment
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2020


  • Barcelona
  • children
  • community
  • gentrification
  • green space
  • tourism


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