Changing geography of urban leisure : the case of Ankara

Önder, Demet
This thesis study focuses on the formation and transformation of leisure activity in urbanization process. It is established on two fundamental assumptions. The first assumption is that (re)production of leisure space is a sociospatial process. There is a dialectic relationship between leisure activity and urban space: leisure activity produces appropriate spaces for itself, while the features of urban space provide opportunities for the development of leisure activity. In the same way, the city produces a space for the leisure activity, which in turn, contributes to the reproduction of the city. This is a never-ending process, and a result of dialectic relationship between leisure activity and urban space. Second assumption states that leisure space has been produced and reproduced historically: present-day leisure geography has been established on overlapping historical realities which are related to each other. Leisure space does not have static properties and nature; instead it is formed in a process of never-ending change, transformation and complicated interconnections. For this reason, in order to understand the structure of present-day geography of leisure, the change and transformation of leisure space has to be analyzed in a historical context. The thesis study approaches to leisure as a change and transformation problem in urban development. However, geography of leisure is not the only changing-one, content and context of leisure is also changing as well. Therefore, change and transformation is explained by neither a spaceless analysis of leisure activity nor a pure geographical analysis independent from social relations. This study tries to go beyond the so-called formulations of “spaceless leisure” or “space without its social context”. Changing geography of leisure throughout the history of Republican Ankara has been examined thoroughly in terms of sociospatial-dialectic between leisure activity and urban space. After this analysis, it is deduced that the change and transformation pattern of leisure space can be explained by five correlated variables: meaning, geography, form, provision, and scale. The total effect of these variables determines the sociospatial configuration of leisure activity in the city. The study conceptualizes the change in each variable under the five interrelated processes: individuation, decentralization, diversification, commodification, and downscaling. Deepening sociospatial segregation due to these five processes constitutes the main hypothesis of this thesis study.