The Strength of Strong Ties Reconsidered: Social Ties and Collective Power in a Gentrifying Community

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Social Currents

Publication Date



Widespread gentrification has increasingly been accompanied by community-based conflicts between newer and long-established residents. These conflicts raise questions about the strategies long-time residents can use to resist displacement and neighborhood change. This article examines a conflict in Fishtown, a gentrifying Philadelphia neighborhood, over plans to build a casino in the community. It looks at the role of strong community ties based on shared place-based identities and experiences as a resource to galvanize community power for long-time residents. The findings show that strong ties can be a source of power used to challenge the interests of newer residents disputing the idea that the market power of incoming gentrifiers always overshadows and displaces the original community. Newer residents with their weaker but more widespread connections did not acquire the leverage to prevail over the strong relationships that long-time residents had with each other. Long-established residents supported the casino as a form of community investment somewhat akin to investments made by manufacturing establishments of yesteryear. Their belief in the concrete monetary benefits that the casino would accrue to their community propelled the organizational activities that the strong ties facilitated, making long-time residents partners in bringing a casino to their neighborhood.




Economic Advancement