American Sociological Association

Along the London Overground: Transport Improvements, Gentrification, and Symbolic Ownership along London's Trendiest Line

Between 2008 and 2011, the dysfunctional North London line was improved and rebranded into a high‐quality, high‐frequency service: the London Overground. Great ambitions for regeneration came with this project: The improved line, running through deprived areas of East London, was expected to bring inward investment and to open access to new opportunities outside the borough to its residents. Seven years after the beginning of the improvement works, Hackney's Overground stations have emerged as hubs for London's trendy, symbolic economy, and the current commercial dynamism has been interpreted by many as indicative of widespread gentrification. Through census data analysis and 58 interviews with local shopkeepers and experts around four stations of the London Overground—Dalston, Hackney Central, Homerton, and Hackney Wick—this study shows that the emergence of a trendy retail scene should not be mistaken for inclusive regeneration. The North London Line improvements catalyzed gentrification both by capital and by collective action, and fostered gentrification in both direct and indirect ways. The expansion of the trendy retail scene, if left uncontrolled by policymakers, will lead to a symbolic displacement of longstanding residents, which will be added to their direct displacement through rising rents and exclusion from employment opportunities in the symbolic economy.


Marion Lagadic





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