Ph.D Thesis

Ph.D StudentShevah Dana
SubjectSocial Dynamics, Urban Civility and Spatial Capacity in a
Newly-Mixed Town: The Case of Karmiel
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisor PROFESSOR EMERITUS Rachel Kallus
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


In the past several decades, an expeditious internal migration process is evident in Israel. Towns established during the 1950s and 1960s as Jewish and secular, have attracted ultra-orthodox communities and Palestinian citizens of Israel. As a consequence, population groups who are considered 'others', share the urban space with veteran residents. Against this background, tensions between different groups arise, turning the city into a contested arena where struggles over public resources and services, as well as over local identity and urban image, proliferate.

The research examined the different strata of urban diversity in the context of planning, asking how urban management and planning deal with a city that becomes mixed and is characterized by multiple conflicts. Karmiel, a newly-mixed town in the northern region of Israel, was selected as a case study. The research focused on three planning events, differing in scale. These events represent conflicts resulting from and intensified by increasing urban diversity in terms of religious inclination (secular vs. ultra-orthodox Jews), ethno-national identity (Jews vs. Palestinian citizens of Israel), and socio-economic inequalities (high socio-economic status vs. law socio-economic status).

The examination of these planning events utilized ethnographic tools, namely: in-depth conversations with local residents, social activists, business owners, building constructors and the media. Historic and planning documents provided valuable complimentary source of information. Triangulation of the different sources of knowledge and information presented an intensive observation of contemporary urbanism and enabled to expand the discussion beyond the immediate local context. 

The analysis of the three planning events in Karmiel revealed that urban conflicts are mostly handled by the jurisdiction system, political and market forces, or social movements. Therefore, instead of surmounting the conflicts, this approach negatively affects planning practice, which operates by default and is based on fragmented and desultory principles. The examination also highlighted that there is no policy or regulations for socially mixed urban environments in terms of religious inclination or ethno-national identity. These findings challenge the theoretical discourse dealing with mixed-cities and highlight the difference between mixed and newly mixed cities.

The research offers a new conceptualization - 'the foster city', which better describes the intermediate situation of newly-mixed cities. This theoretical framework emphasizes the complicated conditions of the population groups that are perceived as 'others', in two central aspects: alienation and temporariness. Additionally, the findings indicate that the contemporary Israeli urban reality, as exemplified by Karmiel, challenges Western theories that deal with multi-culturalism, and casts doubts regarding the liberal-democratic approach underlying these theories. On the other hand, the findings are not in perfect concordance with the emerging Southern theories either, since these theories focus almost exclusively on minorities' rights. Dealing with complex, contested and tangled heterogeneity leads to the conclusion that under the conditions of newly-mixed towns, the questions regarding the status, needs, and preferences of the veteran citizens of the city require further elaboration. Therefore, the research also stresses the need for a quotidian planning approach which is not limited to the preparation and modification of statutory plans.