Volume 1, Issue 1 (4-2014)                   Jsaeh 2014, 1(1): 67-83 | Back to browse issues page

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Karami T. The Role of Social Stratification in the Spatial Distribution of Vulnerability to Environmental Hazards in the City of Tehran. Jsaeh. 2014; 1 (1) :67-83
URL: http://jsaeh.khu.ac.ir/article-1-2315-en.html
researcher , karami_ta@yahoo.com
Abstract:   (2586 Views)

Although environmental hazards occur because of natural factors, however, political economy, controlling the sociospatial relations and conditions, also affect centrally the increase or decrease of physical and social vulnerability caused by hazards. In this regard, present paper has put the spotlight on “explaining the role of spatial distribution of social stratification in vulnerability to environmental hazards in the city of Tehran”. This is based on Political Ecology Approach which emphasizes the domination of prosperous social strata on the urban natural-ecological endowments and utilities and marginalizes low-income and inferior social strata. So, the recognition of social strata inhabitation across the city is significant for the analysis of social inequalities and their effects on the vulnerability of environmental and human hazards. The concentration of middle to high class and working and inferior classes has also caused the range of social inequality to increase in the metropolitan of Tehran and this trend per se has transformed Tehran to the spatial reflection of the contrast between poverty and wealth to the greatest extent in the country. Hence, regarding the fundamental role of social stratification and class structure and its evolution in explaining the dynamics of socio-economical relations in the dominant society and the process of urban space production and reproduction, explaining the role of spatial distribution of social stratification in vulnerability to environmental hazards in the city of Tehran is significant and necessary. Vulnerability to environmental hazards has been studied from the physical, biological perspectives, social construction perspective and contingency perspective. The present paper emphasizes the effects of social construction on the production of vulnerability. Scientists think radical and critical geography of space is a kind of social production. They believe that not only urban space, but also the entire space has a social structure and nobody can analyze it thoroughly regardless to the society’s work on the space. Thus in a world under the Capitalist System, urban space represents a reflection of the control and domination of superior social strata (owners of power, wealth and high status, or the owners of political, economic and socio-cultural assets) in its functional zones.  This has been appeared in the recent decades, within the literature of hazards and catastrophes and based on “an approach of vulnerability” which has been rested on Political Ecology. The mentioned approach has been concentrated on a series of socio-spatial conditions and political economy which shapes the hazards and catastrophes. Some of the effective social conditions in shaping the hazards and catastrophes and their amounts of vulnerability depend on the racial, ethnic and class characteristics. Racial, class, ethnic and political economy analyses, which dominate their social ties, are considered as part of understanding knowledge system of hazards and catastrophes. Since this causes detecting the role of political economy of inequalities and racial, class and ethical processes and the marginalization caused by it, in the emergence of hazards and exacerbation of catastrophes and crises impacts. To use job structure means to emphasize concrete class structures, according to which an image of social inequality can be offered. Thus in present study, for structure determination and main composition of social stratification in Iran and Tehran “Structure Determination and Composition of Social Strata Model” was used. According to this model and with the use of data from matrix tables, major occupational groups and occupational situation have been classified in 5 classes superior strata, traditional middle strata, new middle strata, working and inferior strata and farmers. The data were prepared and analyzed by ArcGIS and Ms Excel softwaares.   During the last century, uneven development process of the country was in favor of the Tehran and superior strata and powerful institutions located in this city. Regarding the processes and relations emerged from political economy of space and political ecology of Tehran, social strata inhabitation of Tehran has been in compliance with environmental capacities raised from topographic and microclimatic distinctions and ecological endowments. The findings of present paper also indicate physical and social vulnerability changes caused by probable hazards related to the general pattern of social strata inhabitation in north-south geographical direction. Spatial distribution of populated blocks in 1996, for which more than 30% of their inhabitants were “senior managers and experts” and “manufacturing jobs employees and laborers”, indicates the above mentioned issue and clearly show the poverty (old poor neighborhoods) and wealth (expensive and rich neighborhoods) spatial centers. In addition, according to the supporting studies on Tehran Comprehensive Plan, most of old urban tissues are in central and southern regions. Also according to the International Seismological Research Agency (JICA), the mentioned regions would be the most vulnerable in the Tehran probable earthquakes. Therefore, it can be said that findings and results of the present study indicate the determining place of political economy of space and urban political ecology and also the fundamental role of social stratification and class structure for recognition, analysis, explanation and understanding of the urban development challenges and problems. Hence, this is impossible to reduce social and physical vulnerabilities caused by natural and human hazards, particularly in the poor neighborhoods, regardless of political economy of space mechanisms and reduction of the gap and even urban development. 

Full-Text [PDF 1235 kb]   (465 Downloads)    
Type of Study: Research | Subject: Special
Received: 1970/01/1 | Accepted: 2016/03/10 | Published: 2016/03/10

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