The author thanks Reşat Kasaba, Arda İbikoğlu, Katherine Beckett, Elif Akçalı, Ayfer Bartu Candan, Barış Büyükokutan, Ceren Özselçuk and the three anonymous IJURR reviewers for their valuable comments and criticisms. Funding for this research has generously been provided by the Foundation for Urban and Regional Studies.
Law, Property and Ambiguity: The Uses and Abuses of Legal Ambiguity in Remaking Istanbul's Informal Settlements
Article first published online: 22 MAY 2013
© 2013 Urban Research Publications Limited
International Journal of Urban and Regional Research
Volume 38, Issue 2, pages 609–627, March 2014
How to Cite
Kuyucu, T. (2014), Law, Property and Ambiguity: The Uses and Abuses of Legal Ambiguity in Remaking Istanbul's Informal Settlements. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 38: 609–627. doi: 10.1111/1468-2427.12026
- Issue published online: 27 FEB 2014
- Article first published online: 22 MAY 2013
- Foundation for Urban and Regional Studies
- Law and urbanization;
- Urban renewal;
- Informal land/housing markets
What is the role of legal ambiguity in the creation and institutionalization of private property regimes? In what ways does the (ab)use of legal ambiguities affect market-making processes? I address these questions through a detailed analysis of two large-scale urban renewal projects in Istanbul that impose a formal private property regime on informal settlements. My research reveals that without the strategic utilization of legal ambiguities and administrative arbitrariness by public and private actors, private property cannot be easily created and hence capitalist markets cannot function efficiently. My findings challenge the assumptions of several social science traditions such as neoclassical and neoinstitutionalist economics, as well as most works within the law and economics tradition regarding the relationship between law, property and economic development. These approaches to economic development are underpinned by the legal certainty that private property entails as the most important element for an efficient economic order. However, in their unconditional support for private ownership, they fail to realize the degree of legal ambiguity and administrative arbitrariness needed to create the private property regime in the first place. As such their arguments remain theoretically and empirically incomplete. A more complete analysis of the relationship between law and economic dynamics must focus on how private property is constructed, and the extent to which legal ambiguities and loopholes are utilized in this process.