Yelp critics are influenced by race in writing their reviews, a new study by three CUNY researchers claims.
To come to this conclusion, the researchers compared 7046 Yelp reviews, 720 of which mention Bed Stuy, and 336 of which mention Greenpoint. Reviewers’ opinions were affected by the majority race of the neighborhood, the study asserts, with words like “authentic” and “cozy” being used to describe traditional white, Polish restaurants in Greenpoint.
Words like “dangerous,” “hood,” and “ghetto,” were used to describe Bedford Stuyvesant in reviews of restaurants in the neighborhood. Reviewers called out the latter “for a dearth of dining options and an atmosphere of dirt and danger,” said the abstract of the report
The study appeared in the Journal of Consumer Culture. Authors include Sharon Zukin, a well-known sociologist at City University of New York who writes about gentrification. Her best known book is probably Loft Living, about gentrification in Soho.
Dining al fresco at L’Antagoniste in July. Photo by Cate Corcoran
Brownstoner checked out a few reviews of notable restaurants in Bed Stuy. “The place is close to my house in a part of the world where there aren’t many restaurants so it would be great to see them succeed,” said a review of French restaurant L’Antagoniste. “They’ve done a beautiful renovation and the bustle at Saraghina and Manny’s proves that people do go put and spend money on a dining experience in this neighborhood.”
Reviews of Bed Stuy’s new Haitian restaurant, Grandchamps, had zero negative mentions of the area. Reviews of Italian restaurant Saraghina focused mainly on the food, service and atmosphere.
Of the few that mentioned the locale, one said it was a gem in the area, while another decried it as “another…hipster, gentrified BK pizza spot.”
Reviews can actually affect gentrification and the racial makeup of an area, said the study. “This language represents ‘discursive redling’ in the digital public realm, with Yelp reviewers contributing to taste-driven processes of gentrification and racial change,” said the abstract.
[Source: Grub Street | Photos: Yelp]
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