Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP) 2022 Congress, Tartumaa (Tartu), Estonia, 25 - 29 July 2022, pp.20-33
Democracy relates to space in a wide variety of ways. When discussing democracy and space, as necessary as it is to address human rights, individualism, the place of the individual within society, and the societal relations established between space and spatial experience (Harvey, 2009; Sen, 2009), it is also important to conceptualize democracy as an agent of (re)structuring space through the concept of the right to the city, which has become associated with human rights and their democratic or non-democratic effects and sanctions on individuals and social relations in various urban settings (Lefebvre, 1991). The existence and state of society, on the other hand, is closely related to the various vulnerabilities of individuals and groups (Turner, 2006). Bearing in mind the space-related principles of the aforementioned theories as well as the appropriation of vulnerabilities within this framework, this study investigates the spatial and social relations that different social groups and non-human members of society establish in public space, both with the space and with each other. Building on Hannah Arendt’s (1998) influential book, The Human Condition, these groups in public spaces were evaluated within the framework of a ‘communal’ and ‘irrelevant’ pair of opposing concepts, and the state of ‘vulnerability’ was associated with that of being deemed ‘irrelevant’ in society.
To this end, answers were sought to the following research questions: In what ways does democracy manifest itself in space, and how is it ensured for different groups co-living in society? What is the equivalent of the concepts of ‘communal’ and ‘irrelevant’ in the public sphere regarding vulnerable individuals and groups? In answering these questions, the study focuses on the complex relationships between these concepts observed in Turkey over a content analysis of print and social media—national satire magazines and YouTube channels, respectively—that reflect on various states of and perceptions on vulnerability in Turkish society and culture. By doing so, it evaluates the inclusive and exclusionary qualities of public spaces. It argues that the terms ‘communal’ and ‘irrelevant’ have been associated with groups that are accepted as ‘normal’ or ‘not normal’ and those that are ‘vulnerable.’ The study concludes with some broader implications of this discussion for social exclusion, democracy and space.