Commodifying urban space : the case of branded housing projects in Istanbul, Turkey
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Since the 1970s, cities have become core areas for neoliberal restructuring strategies, policies and processes (Peck et al., 2009). Brenner et al. (2010) stress that different neoliberalization practices share the ambition “to intensify commodification in all realms of social life” (Aalbers 2013, 1054). In addition, prominent critical scholars including Lefebvre, Harvey and Castells agree upon the fact that “capitalist cities are not only arenas in which commodification occurs; they are themselves intensively commodified” (Brenner, Marcuse, and Mayer 2009, 178). The research argues that commodification of urban space is deepening under neoliberal urbanisation by expanding the commodity realm into spatial practice (Lefebvre, 1990), and by producing simultaneously its enabling mechanisms. It grounds this argument by investigating commodification through the critical case study of branded housing projects developed in Istanbul, Turkey. Housing enclaves have been expanding globally as part of neoliberal urbanisation and, as a particular version of contemporary housing enclaves, branded housing projects have been developed in Turkey since the early 2000s, following the intensification of neoliberal restructuring processes. Branded housing projects are housing enclaves produced under certain brands and provide key urban services within the confines of the projects. Housing enclaves and branded housing projects, in particular, present a representative case for various dynamics of commodification of urban space under neoliberal urbanisation. The research undertakes this critical case study by analysing spatial practice of branded housing projects, to investigate deepening of commodification of urban space, together with analysing discursive formation and development processes of this phenomenon to investigate enabling mechanisms for this commodification. As a result, the research proposes the concept of hyper-commodification of urban space to explain multi-layered deepening of commodification of urban space under neoliberal urbanisation as its main contribution. The research also contributes to methodology by proposing a mixed method strategy bringing critical disourse analysis from communication studies and spatial analysis from urban studies together.