Document Type


Publication Date



Existing research portrays elite places as prone to exclusion, welcoming of upscaling, and focused on protecting their economic self-interests. This paper provides nuance to this research by exploring how stakeholders understand and respond to supergentrification. During the fall of 2016, a group of citizen activists in the exclusive community of Aspen, Colorado, initiated an ordinance seeking to limit the expansion of luxury chain stores. Drawing on qualitative data related to this case, we show that how communities respond to supergentrification depends on locally specific understandings of place and social class, and how class interests have been institutionalized in local policies. In Aspen, residents opposed luxury chain stores by marshaling narratives that foreground the community's history of class mixing and the significance of working locals. Elected officials responded by taking account of the political power of local residents as well as the city's dependence on tax revenues from affluent visitors and second homeowners. Our findings extend and complicate understandings of how power works in elite places, highlighting both the potential for, and limitations of, efforts to thwart supergentrification and associated dislocation.

Copyright Statement

This article is protected by copyright and reuse is restricted to non-commercial and no derivative uses. Users may also download and save a local copy for the user's personal reference.

Stuber, J. and Paulsen, K.E. "Understanding Social Class in Place: Responding to Supergentrification in Aspen, Colorado", Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 54(6), pp. 1130-1146. Copyright © 2022, The Authors. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.