An Analysis of the Role of Awareness of Urban Rights on Active Citizenship (Case Study: Areas 1 and 5 of Mashhad Municipality)
Introduction One of the concepts considered as a development indicator in recent decades is to increase the level of public awareness about all themes, including individual rights and laws. Urban rights are a set of rules and regulations that determine the quality of relations, rights, and duties of citizens against each other, society and institutions of urban management. Awareness of these rights can be regarded as the core of social and political participation and basis of civil society. Accordingly, active participation of citizens in community affairs is considered as a part of the rights and duties of citizenship. Today, citizenship is part of the social and civil rights of any person who impels the organizations and the public to support him, in respect of obedience and observance of the laws and obligations. Although the concepts of citizenship rights in the developed Western countries have an extensive history, however, during the process of globalization, this concept has entered into developing countries, including Iran, and has attracted the attention of researchers, social activists, planners and urban managers. The first step in dealing with the issue of urban rights and active citizenship is to measure the citizens' awareness of their rights. Accordingly, in this study, citizens' awareness of urban rights in two affluent (5th municipal area of Mashhad) and non-affluent areas (1st municipal area of Mashhad with emphasis on Sadjad district), as well as the relationship between the awareness of urban rights and their active participation were investigated and analyzed. Methodology Considering that present study is seeking to assess a relationship between the level of urban rights and citizenship awareness, this study is considered as a solidarity research in terms of its nature, and it is considered as a descriptive-analytical study in terms of the method applied. The required data are collected through documentary and survey methods. The statistical population of this research includes residents of two districts of 1st and 5th municipalities of Mashhad, which involves the age group of 25 to 70 years. The reason for choosing this age range is that people usually marry at the age of 25 after graduation and military service (in the case of men) and enter the work and activity field, consequently, deal with urban management institutions. The research unit in this study is individual and the sample size was determined using the 384 Cochran formula. Data were collected through questionnaires using descriptive and inferential statistical tests such as correlation test, mean comparison, and chi-square, and were analyzed using SPSS software. Results and Discussion The results of this research show that the awareness level of residents of municipal district 1 regarding the urban rights is fair with an average of 3.124 and in district 5 with an average of 2.517 is lower than average as well as the difference in mean in two regions is significant. The significant difference in the level of awareness of urban rights in the two districts can be explained so that the district 1 is considered as one of the affluent and prosperous areas of Mashhad, and in contrast to the district 5 is considered as a non-affluent and impoverished area. It is normal that more income, better use of more educational facilities, the use of more advanced media outlets (Internet, newspaper, books, etc.), provide the higher occupational conditions and interaction with well-informed people, possibility of more domestic and foreign travels, which all contribute to raising the level of awareness of urban rights. There is also a significant positive relationship between income level and awareness which is another result of this study, confirms this claim. Other results of the research show that there is a significant positive relationship between the citizens’ awareness of urban rights and their active participation in urban management institutions. That is, the higher the level of citizens' awareness of citizenship rights is, their active participation in urban management. Furthermore, the results indicate that there is a significant positive relationship between residents' awareness of citizenship rights and their gender variables, their income, and educational level. This means that the men are more aware of urban rights and laws than women. People with higher levels of income and education have also had a greater awareness of citizenship rights. There was no significant relationship between the age and duration of respondents' residence in Mashhad and their knowledge of urban rights. Conclusion The results of most studies conducted in Iran on the participation of citizens indicate their high level of willingness to participate in community affairs and urban management, however, in practice, the active participation of people in the administration of city affairs is less. Perhaps one of the missing circles in this regard is less attention to citizens' awareness of their rights and duties towards citizens, urban managers, and the use of urban spaces. Citizens who do not understand their rights and duties to the community cannot be expected to participate actively in city affairs. There is a significant positive relationship between the awareness level of the rights and the laws of the city and the active participation of citizens in this research according to the theoretical issues and research background in relation to the issue of citizenship rights and participation. Members of a community are encouraged to participate in real, informed, and effective participation in different aspects of social life, in case, they are aware of their rights and obligations on the one hand and the scope of duties and responsibilities of the managers of the institutions and executive agencies on the other. Such awareness also encourages them to claim their rights and increases their sense of responsibility towards respecting the rights of others as well as the rules of the institutions of the community. Therefore, awareness of citizenship rights can be considered as the core of social and political participation of a community. The lack of a meaningful relationship between the age and dwelling duration of residents with the level of awareness of citizenship rights in this research reflects the fact that in Iranian cities, even in metropolitan areas such as Mashhad, there is no appropriate social and institutional context for active citizenship participation and informing and training on urban and citizenship rights. Hence, to create and to improve such a field, more effort of managers, planners, and educational institutions is required.
Journal of Spatial Planning, Volume:22 Issue: 4, 2019
165 - 190
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