Modes of Belonging: Debating School Demographics in Gentrifying New York


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

This article examines the frameworks that stakeholders bring to debates about diversifying schools in gentrifying areas of New York City. Using critical ethnographic methods, I explore stakeholders’ hopes and fears about the effects of shifting school demographics and the relationships between student demographics and school quality. I find that stakeholders use racialized discourses of belonging to discuss whether, why, and how student demographics matter. These discourses of belonging overlap with perceptions of demographic change as opportunities for integration, fears of gentrification, and threats to individual property. Complicating celebrations of “diversity,” I explore the ways in which race is implicated in considerations of who belongs in a school and to whom a school belongs.

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