Contesting neoliberal urbanisation : contemporary urban movements in Istanbul, the case of Gülsuyu-Gülensu neighbourhoods

Özdemir, Esin
The shift from Keynesian to neo-liberal economic policies marked the changes in the urban agenda and the nature of urban movements in the last three decades. The neo-liberal urbanisation reinforced outstanding transformations on the development of urban space, especially in metropolitan areas, including Istanbul. The urban transformation projects, as instruments of neoliberal urbanisation, result in serious changes in this metropolitan area and encounter resistances from groups of people in the city. The purpose of the thesis is to analyse the relationships between the actors of these resistances and how they are organised, based on the conceptual framework of urban movements. It shows that two types of urban movements can be defined today; the first develop as reactions of deprived people of mainly low-income residential areas, against the effects of the transformation on their own property and life styles. The second type is shaped as reactions of discontented groups to neoliberal urban policies. Focusing on the former type, the thesis employs a qualitative method of analysis for identifying the internal and external relationships movement actors build, and the rights they claim. It is argued that, despite what has been argued in the literature on urban movements in general, movements of the deprived in squatter areas may mobilise incorporating a labour struggle dimension shaped around claims of right to the city, due to the labour intensive fashion of the development of these areas. On the other hand, although property-based motives may prevail among the residents, movements can still insist on collective goals, and can be advocates of solidarity among the residents. Moreover, despite their consensus seeking with the local government as a public service provider with facilitating role of external actors, the dominant antagonistic nature of the relationship between movements and the local government as a local political actor prevails.