Dissertation Abstracts

Neoliberalism, gentrification and changing geographies of power: a socio-historical perspective

Author: yardimci, oznur , o.erdemli@lancaster.ac.uk
Department: Sociology
University: Lancaster University, United Kingdom
Supervisor: Andrew Sayer and Imogen Tyler
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: gentrification , displacement , class relations , stigmatisation
Areas of Research: Social Classes and Social Movements , Regional and Urban Development


Urban renewal through state-led gentrification projects has recently become the major urban policy in countries that were relatively late in terms of commodification of urban land. Both as a product and agent of neoliberalisation, gentrification has served the creation of a new geography of power through redistributing urban rents to new actors and relocating the existing actors in urban space. To the extent that space is created through social relations as well as these relations are created through space, not only urban space but also relations to space, relations among people and the meanings they attribute to space are changing during this process of neoliberal urbanisation. To analyse these mutual changes in relation to each other, I conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Dikmen Valley in Turkey, an area in which a large-scale urban rehabilitation project has continued since 1989, as a result of which the valley has become home for people from different social classes as well as ethnic and religious identities, who have attributed different meanings to space. Drawing on Massey’s viewpoint which argues space is the dimension of simultaneity whereby time is that of succession, I offer an analysis of the urban change in the valley focusing on the heterogeneous and simultaneous experiences of the people living through gentrification. In contrast to the overall tendencies in the gentrification literature to overlook the simultaneity of heterogeneous experiences and meanings, I present the stories of the creation of space by multiple groups of people living in the gecekondu houses, multi-layered apartments and more recently constructed luxurious gated enclaves. For each of these I show how their relationships to space and each other have changed. Taking a critical stance also to the tendencies in the literature on displacement, the experiences of the people, who are deemed as surplus populations by neoliberalism (Paton, 2014) for no longer being productive, is examined as a process of negotiation in which they might willingly choose to become part despite the price. Bringing time and space dimension together through incorporating the individual stories with the broader processes of urban development in Turkey, I offer a critical insight of the changing geography of power and the struggles over the meanings attributed to the space as well as the self and the ‘other’.