MetaTOC stay on top of your field, easily

The omnivore's neighborhood? Online restaurant reviews, race, and gentrification

, ,

Journal of Consumer Culture

Published online on


Social media users who post restaurant reviews on the website act as both prosumers or produsers and "discursive investors" in gentrification. Their unpaid online reviews create cultural and financial value for individual restaurants and also construct a positive or negative image of their locations that may lead to economic investment. Moreover, Yelp reviewers show marked preferences in terms of race. Examining 7046 Yelp reviews of restaurants in a predominantly White-gentrifying and a predominantly Black-gentrifying neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY, shows far more reviewers draw attention to the urban locale when the majority of residents are Black. A framing analysis of 1056 reviews that mention the neighborhood indicates that most Yelp reviewers feel positive about the White neighborhood, where they consider the traditional Polish restaurants "authentic" and "cozy," while they feel negative about the Black neighborhood, which they criticize for a dearth of dining options and an atmosphere of dirt and danger. This language represents "discursive redlining" in the digital public realm, with Yelp reviewers contributing to taste-driven processes of gentrification and racial change.