Socio-spatial disparities: the production of marginality within urban space of Tehran (1963-1979)

Valizadeh, Paria
Cities operate simultaneously as a presupposition and an outcome of each mode of production in each period of history and hence city is the very first ground where major socio-economic and political relations find geographical materialization. City and its urban forms, then, are closely tied up with dominant strategies of production, reproduction and transformation of space. In this regard, modernization strategies of ruling powers are of significant importance that lay foundation for further urban development. If modernization programs of the city are mainly favorable to be implemented in the areas with high rate of profit and are oriented to serve the needs of specific interest groups rather than rest of the society, they can bring about uneven urban development. Indeed, uneven development is social inequality manifests itself at the spatial level. So long as this uneven urban development proceeds and roles as the predominant pattern of development, the socio-spatial disparities between different areas of the urban space will be intensified. The areas with locational advantages will continue to grow at a rate faster than other areas and production of luxury means for consumption of the very high-city residents will be at the agenda; while basic needs of the low-city residents cannot be fulfilled. Consequently, areas of concentrated disadvantages as areas of high poverty and their dwellers as urban poor emerge in the society. From this it follows that while urban experience of modernization process is not the same for all social classes, sometimes development can produce much more poverty. High levels of urban poverty concentrate in some parts of metropolitan regions peripheralize the residents of such areas both socially and spatially. The continuation of the production and reproduction of such areas of high poverty brings about rising urban inequality in metropolitan regions, which signifies that marginalization of urban poor is almost institutionalized. Drawing on this, it can be claimed that implementing discriminatory modernization programs through facilitating polarized urban development can generate and exacerbate (rather than reduce) urban inequalities and, actually, can be accounted as one of the mechanisms active in perpetuating spatial distribution of poverty. In this light, this study aims at conducting a critical analysis of impacts of modernization programs came along with the White Revolution of 1963 on low-income residents of Tehran, focusing on its role as bolstering the degree of socio-spatial segregation. Tehran provides an ideal opportunity for such a discussion as a city that was dangerously divided between rich and poor along north-south urban axis particularly in the 1970s. Production and perpetuation of unevenness under urban development that is driven by the logic of capital, state’s attempts in solidifying socio-spatial segregation of different income groups via legitimized institutions such as development projects, reforms and policies, and alienation of the urban poor from development process that in turn could contest the very process of domination and exploitation will be discussed by contextualizing them in Tehran. Of course, hegemonic power of capital and state generally cause limits on what can be done in preventing growing unequal and exclusionary urban spaces; however, even examining a deepening inequality in an urban setting could lead to challenge executed programs and their impacts, and use them as the basis for inventing future in a different waya future with a more egalitarian pattern of urban form that produces more inclusionary, fair and free urban life experiences for all city dwellers regardless of their social class.


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Citation Formats
P. Valizadeh, “Socio-spatial disparities: the production of marginality within urban space of Tehran (1963-1979),” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2018.