54th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Regional development & globalisation: Best practices", 26-29 August 2014, St. Petersburg, Russia
Turkey's economy increasingly benefits from privileged trade, low wage levels and the steady influx of foreign direct investment. Capital accumulation produced by this rapid economic development has increased the land prices and triggered the reallocation of industry and trade. The effects of this tremendous transformation process are manifested mostly in larger cities of the country. In the megacity of Istanbul, government and financial investors realize ambitious infrastructure and commercial projects while in the so called centers of urban transformation centrally-located neighborhoods are becoming increasingly threatened by dispossession. This has led to criticism about the role of central government in urban development and about the lack of citizen involvement in decision-making culminating in the Gezi Park demonstrations in June 2013. In this paper we claim that in the process of urban transformation finding a compromise between commercial and community interest affords the redefinition of citizen and property rights accompanied by the emergence of a politically strong and tightly organized civil society. After a quick survey over contemporary theories of urban transformation and civil society development, we will analyze and explain current processes by which citizens organize their claims about customary, economic and political rights related to participation in planning. By means of case studies and interviews with leaders of neighborhood associations we analyze the instruments and potential of these types of civil society organizations for the inclusion of traditional and customary forms of neighborhoods into the planning and decision making in the process of urban transformation. We find that new types of neighborhood organizations aim at defending their members against forced eviction. Moreover, they organize voice thereby linking residents and local politicians. Our paper highlights the importance of securing both, economic property rights and customary residential rights of citizens for successful and sustainable conflict resolution. Our paper ends with recommendations for the development and further formalization of urban resistance movements' organized efforts to participate in the process of urban transformation. Likewise we give recommendations for the better integration of these organizations in future processes of politics and planning.
Urban transformation neighborhood association housing cooperatives movement Istanbul