Migrants and changing urban periphery: Social relations, cultural diversity and the public space in Istanbul's new neighbourhoods

Ayata S.

INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION, vol.46, no.3, pp.27-64, 2008 (Journal Indexed in SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 46 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2008
  • Doi Number: 10.1111/j.1468-2435.2008.00461.x
  • Page Numbers: pp.27-64


This study examines the dynamics of socio-cultural change in a peripheral neighbourhood in Istanbul, an "edge city" that is ethnically mixed, culturally heterogeneous, socially differentiated and spatially multi-functional. One major focus in the study is the changing nature of social relations in traditional groups. Though kinship, hemseri (place of origin) and neighbourhood solidarity is still crucial in the lives of the migrants, participation in these groups becomes more voluntary and the ties among members less obligatory. Secondly, the ethnic and religious groupings in the neighbourhood are not always exclusive, authoritarian and patriarchal communities. What generally appears as rigid communitarian fragmentation is often one of cultural diversity for the residents of the locality. The associational pluralism that exists in the neighbourhood enables people to claim multiple ethnic, religious, political and cultural identities. Thirdly, though they compare unfavourably with their middle class counterparts in the city, the new neighbourhoods provide greater opportunities and more public space for interaction among the members of the locality than for instance, the rural communities. The study also questions the often taken-for-granted image of a rigidly polarized city in view of empirical evidence that indicates the multiple and complex economic and political links between the new neighbourhoods and the broader urban society. Finally, isolation from middle class areas in the city does not necessarily lead to the exclusion of the whole peripheral urban population from urban life, urban institutions and urban culture. These become increasingly present in the new neighbourhoods and available for the majority of the residents. The main conclusion is that Istanbul contains a number of such edge cities, which have powerful integrating and urbanizing influences on individuals.