Nocturnal neoliberalism in Beyoğlu: the construction of attractive and safe nightlife

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2016
Ural, Haktan
This study examines the ways that neoliberal political rationality is manifested in Beyoglu’s night scene. It explores how the urban government regimes in Beyoglu –which has transformed into entrepreneurialism favouring culture-oriented tourism as an indispensable development strategy- has given rise to the discourses of attractiveness and safety along with greater significance of the flow of people and capital into Beyoglu. Based on a qualitative study conducted with diverse actors in Beyoglu (including managers/owners/workers of entertainment venues and municipal representatives), this study aims at understanding how the normative meanings of nightlife are developed, through which technologies the process of neoliberal transformation is actualized, and how these discourses and practices cultivate particular subjectivities. By taking neoliberalism as a political rationality that creates a discursive universe, I suggest that the ‘affective economies’ (Ahmed, 2004a) of Beyoglu’s night scene play a central role of identifying the boundaries between affiliation and marginalization, borrowing Miller and Rose’s (2008) analytical tools. Accordingly, ‘affiliation’ refers to the construction of attractive, desirable and safe entertainment clusters, which are compatible with the norms and values of market rationalities, while marginalization is imbued with incapacities to be inflected with these meanings. I present that these divisions are grounded on the socio-cultural and socio-economic hierarchies of the night scene in Beyoglu. Besides, the study also sheds light on the regime of practices that ultimately actualize neoliberal transformation. I illustrate the technologies of neoliberal government that translates the market rationalities into the economic and cultural life of Beyoglu’s night scene. For understanding these dynamics, I have also sought to understand whether and in what ways certain forms of counter movements come to emerge and act against neoliberal discourses and practices