On the results of Ümraniye Field research

Nº 10 –

This conference was highlighting conceptual framework of the field research which was performed in one of the peripheral settlements of Istanbul. The title of the research was : « Urban Informal Housing and Labor Markets as Mobility Structures for Rural Migrants ». The research was mainly focusing on the social stratification process in urban Turkey, with special reference to the « squatter areas ». To begin with, the concept of « squatting » and the impact of « squatting » to the rural migrants were widely discussed. Wether the squatter area are « isolated and static » housing areas, and, wether the people living in these areas are « homogenous and immobile », were the two main topics discussed for understanding the process of stratification in those areas. In general, it is observed that « squatting » in urban areas is a dynamic process and these areas have linkages with other parts of urban structure. Besides, residents of these areas are not homogenous and immobile.

Conclusions of this field survey declared that the « squatting » is more than the poverty and it also widely affected from the misadjustment of the administrative system to the urbanization phenomena.

Since 1950’s, Turkey is facing with a radical social change resulted as rapid urbanization. However, state-society relations did not change simultaneously. State, still have traditional centralist and imperative actions, which emanate as either militaristic or populist measures, to the new demands of the society. Thus, state was not able to develop a new strategy and new institutions to fulfill the demands of rapid urbanization. New urban areas are developing neither by state, nor by open market institutions, but by some hidden informal market mechanisms.

Those informal urban housing areas, which labeled as « squatter areas », are widely perceived as areas where only urban poor is living. As it is observed, nowadays, this new market seems to be widened, stratified and started to produce houses not only for poor rural migrants but also for other urban groups. However, development and settlement process in these areas are still depending on open or hidden struggles with the formal institutions. Even for providing minimum infrastructure residents have to make either informal negotiations (with political or administrative authorities) or open administrations.

These areas have created low standard of living, a distinct urban milieu with distinct local power relations and local informal network. In general, this kind of urbanization, had produced not only low quality of housing areas, but also had generated new urban conflicts ans new urban movements in Turkish cities.

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