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ORTA SINIFLARIN MEKANSAL SEÇİMLERİ

SPATIAL CHOICES OF MIDDLE CLASSES

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DOI: 
10.4305

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Abstract (2. Language): 
Middle classes attracted attention in literature in the recent periods due to their expanding nature based on new job descriptions depending on the dynamics of the economy. They had used to have no significance in classical class schemes apart from being a group stuck in between the bourgeoisie and proletariat, and performing those jobs that could be categorized in neither side. However, with changes in the economic order in recent years, the meaning of work changed along with the variety of jobs to be performed. It is commonly known that these new conditions are very much related to technological advance providing heightened mobility to capital, labour and information. Changes in the regime of capital accumulation fuelled by new opportunities changed the sphere of work to a great extent. Developments in the arena of work and employment are revealed with the changes in the occupational structure and growth of a white-collar workforce. Apart from a wide range of low paid, and low skill service sector jobs, a wide variety of management, finance, technology and service related high level jobs which required high level training began to be demanded. ‘New middle classes’ came out as a result of such developments. Defining these newcomers became a central issue of research in many fields, but their significance came not only of the jobs they fulfilled or their role in the production sphere. Their consumption patterns, thus lifestyles became a central issue of interest. This may be mainly because class in the classical understanding defines a group with common interests, but these new middle classes did not have any common goal to fight for. What they had in common was where they stood in the production sided class schemes, between the upper and lower classes, but still their jobs were highly varied. In the occupational aggregate approach, classes are defined by occupational groupings at the expense of other factors (Akpınar, 2005). However, today, in the new economic climate, work lost its capacity in shaping people’s lives (2005). Modern society was a work society according to Offe (1985). However, today in the so-called postmodern societies, as Offe (1985) suggests, work is less a defining factor for a person’s identity in a society with fluid, ephemeral, and flexible working conditions and its loss is filled with other sources for identity building. Therefore, the recent studies concentrated on the middle classes searched for alternative factors that could distinguish between different “groups” within middle classes and their consumption patterns was a central tool in that. Class, in the economic sense broadly defined where they stood within society, but was not enough to capture the dynamic and highly stratified nature of these middle classes. Thus, there was a shift from ‘production side’ explanations to ‘consumption side’ ones in the examination of middle class variety (Crompton, 1993). When the concept of consumption comes into scene, it is suggested that apart from the material satisfaction that a good consumed gives to a person, the symbolic qualities have come to be important in the recent periods (Featherstone, 1991). Thus, what one consumes is not just about the activity of consuming, but what the consumption of that specific good suggests about that person. These connotations distinguish the middle class groups by the notion of “taste”. Choosing to consume things according to your taste defines your lifestyle and the different worlds of lifestyles differentiate the middle classes from each other. The role of taste is discussed mainly based on the work of Bourdieu (1989) who suggests that taste depends on the economic and cultural capital together. With ‘cultural capital’ Bourdieu has introduced a concept very widely used in social sciences especially in the research on middle classes. Also the concept of ‘habitus’ defines a system of dispositions shared by individuals that are the products of the same conditionings (Crompton, 1993). This concept is also developed by Bourdieu (1989) in explaining the active formation of class within the social relations. It is a socialized subjectivity which allows agents to understand, interpret and act in the social world (Bourdieu, 1989). Naturally such a definition does not leave place to well-defined class boundaries and acknowledges the active formation of class in everyday life. The study that this paper is based on is conducted on two middle class groups in a comparative manner (Korkmaz Tirkeş, 2007). First of all it acknowledges the economic class schemes, while applying to the factors that are introduced in the recent debates on middle classes. Therefore, middle class variety may be an outcome of their lifestyles, thus choices of consumption and that these differences may be followed from every part of a person’s life (or ‘habitus’). Eventually, it can be assumed that spatial choices may also be taken as a demonstration of those choices and lifestyles. Based on the theoretical arguments, the study considers ‘spatial choice’ as a strong sign of middle class differentiation. Therefore, ‘choice in the urban space’ may be considered as one of the most significant and bare demonstrations of ‘cultural capital’ and ‘taste’. Since consumption is regarded as an alternative source of class formation for the middle classes because of its symbolic connotations, urban space is certainly the everyday arena where it is possible to display your identity with the things you consume. The demonstration of identity may vary from an immediate scale beginning from the way one talks and dresses to the urban scale where one lives and practices daily activities. Apart from the house and the location of the house one chooses to live in, urban environment may suggest many things about a person’s identity as well. It is known that economic capital restricts the choice of a place to settle within a city due to variations in the rents of different neighborhoods. However, if not bounded with economic factors, choosing to live in one part of the city may be very much related to cultural factors of taste, choice and inevitably ‘habitus’, and the factors related to social capital. The relationship of cultural factors to urban spatial choice comes up in the issue of gentrification where the place that is gentrified usually has a cultural connotation due to a historical background. According to Savage et al. (1992) ‘gentrification’ is the best documented contemporary example of this general trend. Here a new middle class defines itself as a distinct group precisely through residential conversions and the process of gentrification gives it status (Savage et al., 1992). It shows that they possess a particular kind of culture and they have knowledge of history or tradition which provides them the distinction. Moreover, it can easily be suggested that recent housing producers have also turned their attention to providing imagery along with the living environment itself. Houses are marketed under the imagery of a lifestyle of the target group (1). Therefore, it can be suggested that spatial choice (in terms of both location within a city and the cultural and symbolic connotation) is one of the most important lifestyle choices that defines a middle class group’s position within the urban environment. Based on this assumption, two middle class settlements in Ankara, one in Keçiören and one in Çayyolu were targeted in the study in concern (Korkmaz Tirkeş, 2007). These settlement choices are considered as the demonstrators of two different lifestyles because of their different features. One of them is located in the northern part of Ankara, while the other in the south and this by itself suggests a difference because of the well-known opposite character of the two parts of the city divided by the railway lying in the east west direction (Figure 1). In fact this difference is also documented in Güvenç’s (2001) study where the low-income salaried tradesman are said to occupy the northern part, the poor at the center and the wealthy located in the southern part. Therefore, the position of the respondents in Keçiören is contradictory to the peculiarity of the area. In terms of their location within the city, the architectural and urban qualities and historical background, these two places are totally different from each other. The study searched whether this difference of choice is revealed in other spatial choices of the two groups in their everyday use of urban space as well. Along with this survey, the study examined alternative factors of differentiation suggested for the middle classes, since the two groups chosen were at similar economic welfare level. Thus, keeping the obvious effects of the economic capital out of evaluation, the study interrogated effects of other forms of capital on the differentiation of two middle class groups in a comparative manner. Before going on with the outcomes of the research, the specificity of conducting a study with this kind of method should be noted. For planning implementations, data from a variety of sources are collected concerning the urban space. Usually the everyday life activities of urban dwellers are considered insignificant among this load of data. However, based on the argument that choices of middle classes affect the direction and manner of urban development, collecting data of their everyday activities becomes important. As Tekeli (2000) states everyday life is left behind because of being routine, repetitive and is seen as unproblematic. In fact social systems are formed and regenerated based on everyday life practices of the agents. Considering the agent means inevitably considering the body, the physical space surrounding it, the capacities of the agent to interact and practice various activities, thus the uniqueness of space and processes occurring at a specific time. In modern life the concept of everyday life has become an object of social structuring and the potentials for subjectivity have been repressed (Tekeli, 2000). The concept of ‘habitus’ that is integrated to the study determines the practices, thus works for the processing of everyday life. It is a notion facilitating the action-structure dialectic. It is a product of the past, but carries reference to the future (Tekeli, 2000). And most important of all, it is also historical and local, thus contingent (Tekeli, 2000). As Pred suggests, ‘place’ itself is a historically contingent process (1981). These components are interwoven with one another in the formation of every place or region but they vary with historical circumstances. “Place is both text and context” (Thrift, 1983). This line of thought also shows the importance of everyday activities of people in the formation of spatial assets and how this information is time and place specific. Therefore, it is important to collect data in a time and space specific manner in order to capture a moment in the dynamic state of an urban accumulation by trying to catch some glimpses of the ‘habitus’es of different middle class groups. This study may be read as introducing an alternative dimension to location-choice studies that searches for the reasons behind settlement patterns. It is known that basic theoretical formulations on the issue of location-choice have been revised to include various factors introduced with the developments in economy in the recent periods. Initially the major concern of location-choice theories concentrates on the centrality of distance of residence from various activities and especially from workplaces. Location of CBD and sub-centres in relation to residential areas are known to affect the residential pattern of cities as well as some other factors like ethnicity, family status, migration and socio-economic differences. Recently a general trend in deciphering the residential patterns of cities is through the movement of the wealthy groups to the periphery in relation to increase in personal mobility, freeing people from the factor of distance. This study reflects an effort to define, based on which factors the two groups chosen have come to settle in the specific neighborhoods and how these affect their activities in urban space. By keeping the economic welfare constant and assuming equal opportunity in reaching every part of the city whenever they want to, the study examined everyday practices instead of hypothesizing with mathematical models. At this point it should be noted that the study does not have a claim to introduce a general model, indeed in many respects it suggests a potential failure of general models on this issue because of the specificity of every locale in question. Here again there is the demonstration of emphasis on the choices of the agents and the everyday practice.
Abstract (Original Language): 
Bu yazıda Ankara Çayyolu ve Keçiören’de yerleşik olan iki orta sınıf grubunun mekansal seçimlerinin kıyaslanmasını konu alan bir çalışma temel alınmıştır (Korkmaz Tirkeş, 2007). Söz konusu mekansal seçimler, yerleşilen konut ve mahalle başta olmak üzere, kent mekanında çeşitli yerlerin ve etkinliklerin tüketimini ve kent mekanına yönelik değerlendirmelerini kapsamaktadır. Mekansal seçimlerde ekonomik sermaye farklılığının bilinen etkisi dışında diğer faktörlerin etkisinin araştırılması amacıyla benzer ekonomik refah seviyesinde iki üst orta sınıf grubu kıyaslamaya temel olarak seçilmiştir. Bourdieu’cu kültürel sermaye, sosyal ve sembolik sermayenin orta sınıf farklılaşmasındaki etkisi ve bunlara bağlı olarak seçilen iki grubun Ankara kent mekanında yer seçim, mekansal kullanım ve değerlendirme farklılıkları ele alınmıştır. Sınıf oluşumunda üretim süreçlerinin yanısıra tüketim süreçlerinin etkileri temel alınarak orta sınıf farklılaşmasında ‘beğeni’ kavramının etkisi ve yaşam tarzının ayırt edici özelliği tartışılmış ve mekansal beğeni ve seçimlerin de yaşam tarzının bir sonucu olarak kent mekanının gelişimine ne şekilde etki edebileceği Ankara özelinde ortaya konmuştur. Kent mekanında yapılan ve kentte yaşayanların gündelik yaşam pratiklerine ve seçimlerine dayanan çalışmaların kuram düzeyinde yerel çeşitlilikleri ele almasının önemine de, Ankara ve Türkiye şartlarına özgü kültürel faktörlerin tartışılmasıyla değinilmiştir. Yazının kapsamında çalışmanın bulgularının kısıtlı bir bölümü, çalışmanın yöntemini gereğince açıklamak ve genel sonuçları tartışmak amacıyla verilmiştir. Burada amaç çalışma hakkında verilen genel bilgilerle böyle bir yöntem kullanılarak kent çalışmalarında ne tür bir bakış açısının yakalanabileceğini tartışmaktır.
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