Browsing: “Doing Tolerance: Urban Interventions and Forms of Participation” by María do Mar Castro Varela and Bariş Ülker (eds.)

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About the book

How is tolerance reflected in urban space? Which urban actors are involved in the practices and narratives of tolerance? What are the limits of tolerance? Doing Tolerance: Urban Interventions and Forms of Participation by Maríado Mar Castro Varela and Barış Ülker (eds.) answers these questions by considering different forms of urban in/exclusion and participatory citizenship. By drawing together disparate yet critical writings, the volume examines the production of space, urban struggles and tactics of power from an interdisciplinary perspective. Illustrating the paradoxes within diverse interactions, the authors focus on the conflict between heterogeneous groups of the governed, on the one hand, and the governing in urban spaces, on the other. Above all, the volume explores the divergences and convergences of participatory citizenship, as they are revealed in urban space through political, socio-economic and cultural conditions and the entanglements of social mobilities.

Snippet: pp. 9-14


Doing Tolerance and the Question of Urban Citizenship: An Introduction

Barış Ülker and María do Mar Castro Varela

Cities are complex spaces. They simultaneously enable processes of emancipation remaining exclusive and discriminatory. It is in the cities—especially the metropolis—that people make use of their right to protest in order to demand the right to vote, stand up against corruption and call for measures to curb violence (among other things). It is impossible to think of the city without considering the contested, and somehow blurry, concept of citizenship. Some scholars claim that the city and citizenship are in crisis (see Samara 2012): The present volume takes that assertion as a starting point to engage with different perspectives on the city and citizenship through a critical understanding of the relations of tolerance.


Tolerance Revisited

At the twenty-eighth session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1995, member states declared November 16 as the International Day for Tolerance to create public awareness about tolerance, point out the consequences of intolerance, and activate tolerance promotion and education (UNESCO 1995). As part of this declaration, four different aspects were emphasized to clarify the meaning of tolerance (Article 1). First, tolerance—as a political-legal requirement and moral duty—is understood as “harmony in difference” and the “respect, acceptance and appreciation” of the diversity of the world’s cultures, both of which provide the basis for a culture of peace. Second, tolerance—as exercised by states, groups, and individuals—is an approach that can be developed through the recognition of human rights and the fundamental freedoms of others. Third, tolerance supports the principles of democracy, the rule of law, and pluralism. Fourth, tolerance allows each person to follow their own beliefs and to accept that others follow theirs.

Within this conceptual definition of tolerance, the declaration considers both state-level adjustments (Article 2) and necessary social dimensions (Article 3). It underlines that tolerance must be backed up by legal and administrative mechanisms, and that states are required to assure that every person has the option to make use of social and economic opportunities without discrimination. States are also expected to approve the international human rights conventions on equal treatment of individuals and groups. Last but not least, states must respect that individuals and groups have the right to be different (the multicultural character of the human family) and hence must take precautions against the exclusion of vulnerable groups from social and political participation.

In terms of the social dimension, the declaration points to the impact of the globalization of the world economy and the interconnectedness of new migration waves and urban transformations, which has resulted in the escalation of intolerance as a global phenomenon. In this sense, the promotion of tolerance must take place at different levels of social life, including the family, schools, universities, workplaces and within communication media. Particular emphasis is also placed on the support required by socio-economically disadvantaged groups in terms of housing, health, employment, education, and integration. To build up these efforts at the social level, scientific studies and networking capacities must be mobilized to undergird the policy-making processes.

From a broader perspective, the UNESCO declaration was one of the first efforts to promote tolerance through participatory citizenship in the post-1989 world. Although in the following years, this declaration would have a large impact on how the role of urban settings in encouraging the participation of citizens for the promotion of tolerance was understood, the relationship between cities and tolerance was not terra incognita. In classical and contemporary studies (Simmel 1997, Wirth 1938, Fischer 1971, Abrahamson and Carter 1986, Zukin 1995, Wessel 2009, Bannister and Kearns 2012, Huggins and Debies-Carl 2014), cities had already been labeled as the most productive spaces to encounter strangers, engage with difference, and to provide in return the foundation for the creation and development of tolerant behaviors.


Participatory Citizenship: A Genealogy

These efforts to promote tolerance through participatory citizenship must, however, be analyzed critically in order to uncover the power relations embedded in the concept of tolerance in regards to various urban settings. What are the necessary conditions for the emergence and development of tolerance in different urban spaces? How can one interact with others through tolerance? How is tolerance reflected in urban space? Which urban actors are involved in the practices and narratives of tolerance? What are the limits of tolerance?

This edited volume provides answers to these questions by considering different forms of urban in/exclusion and participatory citizenship. By drawing together disparate yet critical writings, it examines the production of space, urban struggles and tactics of power from an interdisciplinary perspective. Illustrating the paradoxes within diverse interactions, the volume focuses on conflict and solidarity between heterogeneous groups of the governed and the governing in urban spaces. Above all, it explores the divergences and convergences of participatory citizenship, as they are revealed in urban space through political, socio-economic and cultural conditions and the entanglements of social mobilities.

Before considering these critical assessments more closely, it is necessary to briefly contextualize the idea of citizenship and the debates surrounding it, which historically relied on the emergence and development of cities. This overview is particularly crucial for both a deeper understanding of the power relations embedded in the concept of tolerance promoted through the divergences and convergences of participatory citizenship and a reflection of these relations in urban spaces. Additionally, it provides a conceptual background for the twelve chapters in this volume by highlighting the relationships between cities and citizens and thus the argument, from a methodological perspective, for urban space as the main unit of analysis.

Generally speaking, the idea of citizenship has evolved from a traditional form of communal membership to a rational understanding of social order. In this understanding of social order, populations are organized within the boundaries of nation-states by the content of social rights and obligations, by the form or type of such obligations and rights, by the social forces that produce such practices, and by the various social arrangements through which such benefits are distributed to different sectors of society (Turner 1993: 3). Put differently, citizenship has been defined as a set of political, economic, cultural and symbolic practices and an amalgamation of rights and duties that forms an individual’s membership in a polity (Isin and Wood 1999: 4). In this sense, the relationship between the state and citizens is not regulated through the domination of one over the other. Although the nation-state as a dominant polity identifies individuals through criteria such as birth, blood, and nationality, registers them with identity cards, and regulates the process of naturalization and the rights of immigrants, citizens are not only political objects that can be manipulated by the nation-states (ibid.: 4). They are also active participants in the formation of political, economic, cultural and symbolic practices, and can potentially develop strategies against or through the nation-state.

According to Castles and Davidson, three dynamics affected this developing conceptualization of citizenship (2000: 6–9). First, globalization questions the relative autonomy of the nation-state upon which a particular national citizenship is based. This can be considered a result of the relationship between economy and bounded national territories. Since economic activities transcend national borders and become uncontrollable for national governments, national industrial society cannot be seen as an economic and social system based on rational principles within a bounded territory. In that sense, the autonomy of the nation-state as the main regulatory unit over a specific territory becomes questionable, since it cannot ignore the pressures of global markets.

Second, globalization has destabilized the ideology of distinct and autonomous national cultures. Though homogenization is one of the aims of the nationalist project, developments in transportation and communication have paved the way for the interchange of cultures. This, in turn, has increased the interaction between global and local cultures and weakened the ostensibly homogenous character of national cultures. Moreover, this trend has paved the way for an emphasis on ethnic groups within the nation-state and inevitably created the re-ethnicization of culture and identity.

Third, not only the temporary and permanent movements of highly skilled specialists, manual workers, tourists and young people for education or training but also labor migrations, and refugee exoduses have increased the mobility of people across national boundaries. This amplified mobility of people has also resulted in the emergence of new ethnic cultures and minorities, which have forced policymakers to reorganize national laws and practices concerning integration and citizenship. Additionally, the ethnocultural characteristics of migrants—in particular, solidarity mechanisms—enable them to further develop social linkages between the country of origin and the country of settlement, through which the rapid movement of capital, goods, people, culture, image, and symbol become possible, and transnational networks are formed. To have a better understanding of this recent development in the conceptualization of citizenship, it is helpful to look briefly at its historical dimensions.

The rights and duties of citizens in Europe are mostly a development of the last three centuries. According to Marshall, citizenship “is a status bestowed on those who are full members of a community. All who possess the status are equal with respect to the rights and duties with which the status endowed” (1992: 18). In Marshall’s conceptualization, citizenship, as a problem of democracy and capitalism, is related to the question of

how to reconcile the formal framework of political democracy with the social consequence of capitalism as an economic system, that is, how to reconcile formal equality with the continuity of social class divisions (Turner 1993: 6).

In other words, citizenship, in his formulation, is utilized by the ruling elites in order to tackle conflicts arising as a consequence of the division of social, political and economic resources among different classes. In this respect, citizenship is an ideological apparatus akin to nationalism or racism (Kaya 2003: 152–153). Citizenship is thus seen as a political institution that legitimizes inequalities Introduction 13 within the structure of capitalist society. This tension between citizenship and capitalism can only be resolved through the arbitration of the welfare state (Delanty 2000: 16). With the institution of citizenship, the welfare state may usurp the role of class conflict by removing conflict from the social domain.

In analyzing the emergence of a modern conceptualization of citizenship, Marshall formulates an evolutionary understanding of citizenship which is dependent upon the acquisition of rights. These rights evolved from civic rights to political rights and then to social rights in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries respectively. In the medieval period, these rights were inseparable, and citizenship could be seen in cities, where it reflected a right to the city and its institutions (Isin and Wood 1999: 26). While uniform rights and duties did not exist, status was the mark of class and the measure of inequality. Classes in early modern societies included patricians, plebeians, serfs, and slaves, which necessarily contradicted the understanding of equality implicit in citizenship (ibid.: 28). In the seventeenth century, the struggle against absolutist monarchies resulted in the freedom of the individual with respect to freedom of conscience, worship, speech, the right to enter into a contract and the ownership of private property. These rights subsequently gave rise to a civil form of citizenship. Moreover, these achievements led to the institutionalization of law courts and individual rights for open trials. The equality of all citizens before the law was foundational to these developments (Delanty 2000: 15).

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, political rights became the main focus of a modern conceptualization of citizenship. The emergence of political citizenship was mostly associated with the growth of modern parliamentary democracy. Within this context, political rights were composed of the right to vote, the right to be selected, the right of association and the right to participate in the organs of government. Although political rights existed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, they were not universal. Franchise remained as a group monopoly until the twentieth century, and political rights were exercised by those who had made economic gains and purchased property using their newfound civil rights (Isin and Wood 1999: 27). Both civic and political rights were necessary for capitalism and its class system. Thus, citizenship did not and does not contradict with the existing type of class structure (ibid.: 28). Rather they became unavoidable for the maintenance of particular forms of inequality. Status as a reflection of order, rank and family as in early modern societies was not destroyed but replaced with the institution of citizenship, founded upon the equality of opportunity, which provided the legal atmosphere to struggle for the things one would like to possess but without a guarantee of their eventual possession (ibid.).

Although social rights were incorporated into the status of citizenship with the introduction of public elementary education at the end of the nineteenth century, it was not until the twentieth century that the link between social rights—the right to education, health, unemployment benefits, pensions, and social security—and citizenship became readily apparent (Delanty 2000: 16). In that sense, the rise of social services, especially housing and education, as indicators of social rights has made citizenship the architect of a new class of inequality (Isin and Wood 1999: 29). Within the relation between education and occupation, for example, the demand for various degrees, certificates, and diplomas has become a substantial qualification for employment, as demand classifies individuals into certain groups and fosters a system of class differentiation via profession and occupation.


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