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Session Overview
RN22_08a_H: Risk, Uncertainty and Inequality II
Thursday, 31/Aug/2017:
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Piotr Matczak, Adam Mickiewicz University
Location: HB.3.19
HAROKOPIO University 70 El. Venizelou Street 17671 Athens, Greece Building: B, Level: 3.

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How environmental, social, spatial and ethno-racial inequality are connected to coastal risks: a comparison between the Mediterranean coast and the French West Indies

ARNAUD Aurélie1, CLAEYS Cécilia2, LAMBERT Marie-Laure1

1Aix-Marseille-Université - LIEU, France; 2Aix-Marseille-Université - LPED, France

This paper draws on sociology, geography and law to provide an interdisciplinary analysis of how exposure to risk intersects with socio-economic, spatial, ethno-racial, legal and environmental inequalities. The analysis focuses on the exposure of populations to coastal risks (e.g., erosion, cyclonic swell, submergence) which, in France, have become the topic of increased regulation since 2012, in the aftermath of cyclone Xynthia.

Our research is based on a comparison of two municipalities: Carry-le-Rouet (CLR) in mainland France and Capesterre-Belle-Eau (CPE) in Overseas France. The interdisciplinary corpus of data is comprised of 83 semi-structured, geo-referenced interviews conducted with inhabitants and institutional actors, as well as a set of spatialized data (geographic perception; physical-, regulatory- and socio-economic data).

Our findings underscore an exacerbated accumulation of vulnerability in the municipality of CPE, which encourages situations of compounded risk. Since the abolition of slavery, its shores have been a place of relegation for poor populations, some of whom live in temporary or informal settlements exposed to several coastal risks that are aggravated by the expansive hardening of the coastal shoreline. Such vulnerable populations still have trouble taking advantage of the legal reforms aimed at their protection. In the municipality of CLR, however, the coastal districts exposed to cliff erosion have become places of social prestige over the past few decades. Their rich and influential inhabitants have the ability to influence local government decision-making in their favour and to resist recent legal reforms.

Uncertainty in a mass poverty context: stress in personal memories of Mumbai dwellers

Aude Martenot

University of Geneva, Switzerland

Economic reform and brutal entry into capitalism have challenged social organization of urban India during the last twenty years. Recent uncertainties caused by modernity (individualism, environmental and political risks, defeat of the Welfare State's protective system) are added to traditional norms, such as cast system, age and gender stratification. So, there is a conjunction between poverty, vulnerability and accumulation of dangers particularly in developing countries (Beck, 2007). In large cities like Mumbai, this phenomenon can be observed (Drèze & Sen, 2013), especially in slum areas where people are living under unhealthy conditions.

Those observations lead to the question: does modernity provoke new forms of vulnerability in a country where mass poverty has existed for a long time? We conducted two large scale surveys in the slums of Mumbai in 2012 and in a formal neighborhood of the city in 2014. The main sample is composed by 1255 interviews of women and men aged between 20-84 years. Through analysis of subjective perception of main turning points across the life course, this presentation focuses on the topic of stress, taking into account the variables of age, gender and socioeconomic levels to address cross-sectional vulnerability (Pearlin, 1989). Among the events mentioned by the interviewees, we found that women encounter more negative events and daily hassles, or chronic stress, than men. We also noted that poverty and low level of education involve more mentioning of out-of-timing changes, as well as more mentioning of an absence of change, suggesting that old and new inequalities are coexisting.

The Changing Urban Space and Everyday Life in Istanbul: An Analysis of the Gated Communities of Neoliberal City in the Era of Risk and Uncertainty


1Adnan Menderes University, Turkey; 2Karabuk Universitesi, Turkey

As a result of the neoliberalism, especially work related uncertainties, we are witnessing a radical transformation of urban life and social relationships in the ‘new cities’ in Turkey.

As uncertainty became a new way of living in light of the changing circumstances, new ways of life began to emerge around ‘risk and fear’ in cities. In what could be defined as the ‘late modern era’ we argue that gated communities have become the most important result of these times. The actors of this new stage in Istanbul are the ‘new middle class’. In these new urban conditions (neoliberal city) where ‘deformity’, ‘contact’, ‘danger’, ‘strangers’ or any symbol which represents public life induces fear, while lasting passivity has become an important strategy for safety and security. We are witnessing a process where the neighbourhoods and streets, which tie the private and public sphere in ‘traditional modern cities’, are transforming into areas of threat. Cities are no longer spaces where differences mix together but instead spaces dived into camps by the ‘fanatics of private life.’

As it is the best example of these transformations, this research was conducted within the framework of the gated communities in the Istanbul metropolitan area. Drawing on in depth interviews (N 57) this research aimed to identify the transformations in relations to risk, fear and uncertainty.

Coping with risks, and subjective experiences of wellbeing in times of economic crisis and permanent austerity: the case of Finnish families with children

Marja Kristiina Palmu, Mikael Nygård

Åbo Akademi University, Finland

As Nordic welfare model, Finland has been acknowledged for its encompassing family policies with high degrees of parental employment and low incidence of poverty in an international comparison. During recent years, however, sluggish growth, high levels of unemployment as well as recurrent austerity measures (such as child benefit cutbacks) have gradually undermined the economic security of families, notably among single-parent and multi-child families in Finland. Together with more uncertain labour market attachments of Finnish parents these cutbacks have put families under increasing strain and increased the risks of poverty, health differences as well as other forms of ill-being. In this paper, we analyse everyday risk conceptualizations and risk-coping strategies of Finnish parents as well as their evaluations of how work-related and economic uncertainty affect their subjective wellbeing. Subjective wellbeing is here defined broadly as an umbrella concept covering different dimensions, such as economic, social or psychological wellbeing as well as physical health. The data consists of 22 qualitative semi-structured interviews with Finnish- and Swedish-speaking parents from the region of Ostrobothnia in Finland and was collected in the autumn of 2016 and winter of 2017. On the basis of our findings we argue that families in Finland today encounter a high prevalence of risk and uncertainty, and that this has consequences for their wellbeing most notably for low-income families and their children. The findings also, however, show that parents employ different risk-coping strategies and that the association between risk and wellbeing is complex and not always straightforward.

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