Independent Ethnographic Research Project: The Effect of Gentrification on Brixton Market (London, UK)

 

During the summer of 2011, I lived in Camden and traveled via Underground into Brixton, London’s historically Afro-Caribbean neighborhood. I would visit Brixton Market, where I spoke with shoppers, vendors, and residents in order to answer my research question, “What is happening here beyond simply buying and selling?” I learned that Brixton was undergoing a loss of local ethnic identity, and that the experiences created in and by this market were largely contributing to this.

In the 1940s and 50s, Britain experienced a flood of immigration from the West Indies. The first wave of Afro-Caribbean immigrants came from Jamaica on the Empire Windrush in 1948, and settled in Brixton.

I learned that among the Brixtonian Afro-Caribbean community, the older generation was beginning to die out, and the younger generation was moving further south of London, where property is more affordable. Middle-class white British residents of the surrounding areas were moving in, being able to afford the rise in rent and housing prices.

I gathered from my observations that there were two very different sorts of clientele expected at Brixton Market—one with enough money to purchase what they want, and another who may only have the funds to be shopping for what they need.

By catering to and accommodating the middle class who can afford goods and services that the working class cannot, the shops and restaurants recently brought into Brixton Market are an exclusive experience that is inaccessible to the Afro-Caribbean community.