Prepared by the researcher : LOUALI ABDELGHAFOUR Sociologist Researcher and a high school philosophy professor, member of the Sociology and Psychology Laboratory at the Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences, Dhar Elmahraz, Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University – Fes Morrocco
Democratic Arabic Center
Journal of Afro-Asian Studies : Nineteenth Issue – November 2023
A Periodical International Journal published by the “Democratic Arab Center” Germany – Berlin
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Through a field study conducted in one of the largest urban agglomerations in the city of Meknes, our aim was to provide a sociological understanding of shared housing within this urban model. This was achieved by attempting to comprehend and interpret the phenomenon of cohabitation as well as the social problems stemming from it, notably conflicts arising from diverse interests and needs, along with their overlaps. Additionally, we sought to understand how residents manage these conflicts by favoring a logic of negotiation over confrontation, highlighting communication elements rather than the causes of conflicts. All of this was done with the purpose of minimizing conflict intensity within this environment that acts somewhat like a microcosm of society, by establishing a local social contract. In our study, we employed a qualitative approach, conducting several semi-structured interviews with a targeted sample of residents from the “Bourge Moulay Omar” and “Ain chabbik” neighborhoods, chosen as models for areas benefiting from the state’s policy to eradicate precarious housing. Our study concluded that shared housing is a site of various conflicts triggered by residential tensions and resulting disruptions, intermittently creating tensions among inhabitants. However, these conflicts are often overcome to enable harmonious coexistence, proposing the establishment of a local social contract based on negotiation.
Moroccan cities have witnessed a significant increase in their urban population. Between 2004 and 2014, the population grew from 16,464,000 to 20,432,000 inhabitants, recording an annual demographic growth rate of 2.2%, compared to 2.1% in the previous decade. This growth has had a major impact on the dynamics of urban areas and has brought about numerous changes at various levels (social, cultural, urban, etc.).
Undoubtedly, the exceptional demographic growth, characterized by its increase and the diversity of its demographic indicators, is unevenly distributed within these Moroccan urban areas. It is particularly pronounced in low-income neighborhoods, especially those benefiting from the state’s policy to eradicate precarious and inadequate housing.
Faced with this rapid growth in the demographic structure of Moroccan cities, including Meknes, the demand for all services that the city can provide as a space for the emergence of a new mindset has increased, namely housing. This has necessitated the organization of the real estate sector to accommodate various housing programs. Consequently, the idea of multi-story buildings and apartments emerged, which could accommodate a large number of families on small areas of land (vertical expansion) through collective construction (two or three families, sometimes more). Thus, the question of shared housing could become one of the possible solutions to accommodate a large number of families in the absence of sufficient real estate supply, allowing each family to have independent housing.
Here, the question of cohabitation and communal living will arise again, after having been present in precarious neighborhoods in particular. This phenomenon arouses interest and requires a sociological study, especially as it is spreading not only in Meknes but also in all highly urbanized cities like Casablanca, Rabat, Salé, Fez, and Kenitra, etc.
The population of these neighborhoods is characterized by a set of demographic and socio-economic characteristics (high household size, low level of education, fragile economic base, unstable social and psychological situation, etc.) that make them distinct and different from other residential areas, whether luxurious or semi-luxurious, and give rise to numerous social phenomena and problems. These characteristics, combined with the magnitude of residential tensions generated by this type of housing (cohabitation), which can even reach levels of conflict among residents (cohabiting families), due to the interlocking and interconnection of interests and needs, and sometimes drifting towards deviance and crime, require the activation of principles of dialogue and coexistence. This is based on the logic of negotiation, which favors communication elements over the causes of conflicts, by establishing a local social contract.
Given that Moroccan society is diverse and multicultural, with varied origins, this research aims to understand the way of life within these urban agglomerations and to measure the extent to which residents adapt to this type of housing (cohabitation) and to examine its distinctive characteristics. This will be accomplished by addressing a main question as follows: What are the most significant issues that residents of these neighborhoods face, and how do they manage to overcome these problems that inevitably become sources of numerous conflicts so as to achieve harmony and coexistence in the end?
Indeed, the objective is to delve deep into the daily life and challenges that inhabitants of these neighborhoods confront while living in shared housing. This exploration will unveil how the cultural and economic diversity within Moroccan society manifests itself in these urban spaces and how residents handle tensions resulting from cohabitation.
Analyzing the challenges and proposed solutions to promote integration and coexistence within these neighborhoods could not only help understand complex social dynamics but also contribute to formulating strategies to foster a harmonious and peaceful living environment within these diverse urban areas.
The objective of this research article is to shed light on the challenges that our cities are currently facing by comprehending the reality of residential neighborhoods, particularly those benefiting from the state’s policy to eradicate precarious and inadequate housing. In doing so, we strive to provide a sociological analysis of cohabitation within this urban context, seen as a manifestation of housing policy in Morocco. This analysis involves understanding and interpreting cohabitation on one hand and the resulting social problems that can lead to conflicts on the other. It also explores how residents manage this situation to avoid escalating conflicts and promote negotiation as a means of fostering coexistence.
To achieve these objectives, our approach is based on an ecological theoretical framework, envisioning cohabitation as an interaction between the environment and society. Thus, we adopted a qualitative methodology by conducting semi-structured interviews with a sample of residents from the “Bourg Moulay Omar” and “Ain chebbik” neighborhoods. These two neighborhoods are among the largest urban clusters in the city of Meknes and have been targeted by the government’s policy to eliminate precarious housing, either through restructuring or relocation.
In sum, our article aims to deepen the understanding of the cohabitation experience in these urban neighborhoods, as well as how residents cope with various challenges and manage to interact positively despite their diverse cultures and backgrounds.
The Concept of Housing:
Housing, as a crucial element for understanding and interpreting behaviors, imposes upon us the task of precisely defining this concept. If we examine the linguistic root of the word in the Arabic language (س. ك. ن) and explore its verbal and nominal derivatives, we can identify four main meanings, as explained by “Ibn Manzour” in the “Lisan al-Arab” dictionary. The verb “سكن” (sakan) refers to the action of residing in a place intended for habitation. This place is considered the residence, and what is referred to as “السّكن” (al-sakan) and “المسْكَن” (al-maskan) containing “السّكْن” (al-sukun) (with the letter “kaf”). This designates the person who lives there, i.e., the inhabitants of the place of residence. Furthermore, tranquility and serenity are the primary aspirations that residents seek to achieve in their place of residence.
In Arabic, there are several synonyms for what “المسْكن” (al-maskan) can signify. Terms like “البيت” (al-bayt), “المنزل” (al-manzil), and “الدار” (al-dar) can also be used, with some nuances in meaning. These terms are often interchangeable to refer to the place of habitation, but they can also carry specific connotations based on context. In French and English languages, the equivalents of these terms would be “Demeure” and “Maison” for the former language and “House” for the latter. Additionally, this concept is also present in the dictionary of the Amazigh language, where it is translated as “Axxam” (أَخَامْ), “Tamezdugt” (ثَمْزذُوغْثْ), then “Tigmmi” (تِكْمِّي) and “Taddart” (تَدَّارْتْ). These terms are used by the Amazigh people of Souss and southeastern Morocco, and they all signify the notion of residing in a place.
The concept of housing, or what is commonly referred to as “housing,” encompasses the various ways in which individuals, families, and communities utilize and occupy their residential spaces. This also includes the ecological context of life in this type of housing; it is an enclosed and covered indoor space where we engage in the act of permanent residence.
Also, it expresses various forms of construction as well as social and familial space.
From a physical perspective, housing is an area or place that consists of rooms, walls, and facilities, with no particular significance for individuals, except for meanings related to satisfying their basic vital needs such as food and sleep. Many thinkers, like the architecture professor at the University of Baath, “Nidal Sattouf,” during the third housing symposium held in Riyadh in 2007, have arrived at this idea. He constructs an image of the articulated relationship between containers and their symbolic contents. Here, the encounter between housing as a material space, resulting from architectural and functional transformation of the place, and housing as an experience and concept imbued with representations and symbols, takes on meaning. This process of transformation and utilization is based on pre-existing cultural patterns, even if the space’s production was previously carried out by designers to be owned and used in daily life. Therefore, housing extends beyond the space enclosed by walls and roof, where individuals solely respond to their biological and physiological needs. It goes beyond that to satisfy psychological, social, and cultural needs. It’s a place that evolves through interaction, cohabitation, and use, thereby transforming a mere space into a gathering place for individuals bound by kinship and neighborhood ties. As such, it generates interactive experiences filled with emotions, communication, and reactions.
From a philosophical standpoint, housing is not just a peripheral element of human existence; it’s a vital component as well. Its fundamental importance has been particularly recognized by utopian philosophers like Thomas More, Charles Fourier, and Étienne Cabet, who proposed housing conceptions to accompany and support their projects for improving human life. In contrast to Le Corbusier’s assertion about the importance and the role housing should play in the human life as a “machine for living,” an idea that stands in stark contradiction to Heidegger’s poetic perspective famous for his notion of “man dwells poetically.”
From a psychological standpoint, Gaston Bachelard, considered the precursor of housing psychology, views it as a sequence of images that provide reasons or illusions of stability from his point of view. In his work “The Poetics of Space,” Bachelard explains that housing is our first intimate space, a refuge for our values and intimacy. It’s the keeper of all memories and dreams tied to this interior space, carrying special individual values, as emotions reside in us through it. He sees it as our first opening onto the world since birth, a lived and imagined reality, a corner of ours in the world, our first creation.
Bachelard argues that the home preserves our memories of loss, as many of them are preserved through the home, especially if it’s a “true home.” He believes that an authentic home must be complex, much more than a simple single-story apartment. He argues that there are no true homes in Paris because residents live in imposed structures, rendering urban homes devoid of intimacy due to the density of multi-storey buildings. It also lacks universality because homes aren’t directly in contact with their natural environment, and the relationship between the house and space becomes artificial, where “everything around it becomes mechanical, and intimate life escapes in all directions.” Max Bicar shares this view, stating, “Houses are like pipes that suck humans inside them and expel air.”
From a sociological perspective, housing creates a daily space and frames a series of important family relations and scenes that require thorough exploration. Thus, occupants of a housing are in connection with a social network and specific group or relational models, especially with their families, through specific interpersonal ties. It acts as a link between the individual and society, and it’s one of the mechanisms of social integration, given that housing independence is closely linked to the institution of marriage, with all that entails in terms of belonging, regulation, and commitment. The home is almost devoid of meaning and function outside the social and family context, and its creation generally fits within this perspective, fulfilling the conditions of social and moral recognition.
Sociologists consider housing one of the fundamental elements of family life, as it is within it that all social, educational, and ethical functions are performed. Inadequate housing in terms of the number of occupants and minimal living conditions has a considerable impact on the patterns and behaviors of its inhabitants. Most developing countries have addressed the issue of providing adequate housing and conducted studies and research in this field. For some of these nations, housing has become one of their greatest challenges, particularly due to increasing urbanization.
The significance and complexity of sociological analysis of housing lies in the fact that it lies at the intersection of multiple areas of sociology: family sociology, consumption sociology, urban sociology, and social action sociology. Housing sociology focuses on studying the dialectical relationship between housing and the city, a relationship that generates interactions to evaluate the external environment on one hand (residential neighborhood, facilities and services, and transportation), and housing ownership rates, independence, and security on the other hand. Additionally, it delves into the level of urban and social integration in relation to exclusion and marginalization on a third hand.
Housing is considered a crucial element of public policies in the fields of urban planning, public health, social construction, and urban integration (social mix). Therefore, sociology must consider these different dimensions, as emphasized by Yankel Fijalkow, highlighting the connection of this discipline with national identity, as housing is deeply embedded in national planning and public health policies.
Consequently, housing sociology goes beyond superficial aspects of the discipline. It is grounded in the history of each country or even each region. Dwellings vary in terms of type, nature of construction, and material characteristics. This diversity explains the qualitative differences and the nature of the social categories residing within. Among the types of housing are those that were composed of corrugated metal houses (baraks) and were demolished and rebuilt as one of the strategic solutions to eliminate them from the urban landscape, in line with the state’s policy to eradicate inappropriate housing. Transition to the next part like question or an example of solutions implemented by the government.
Cooperative housing is one of the expressions of the state policy to eradicate shantytowns: an insight into the rehousing projects history in Meknes
Residential neighborhoods affected by this policy have undergone significant physical transformations, transitioning from slums (known as ‘b’raka’) to concrete and cement housing (houses or apartments). One of these transformed neighborhoods is Bourj Moulay Omar, one of the largest neighborhoods in Meknes, alongside other neighborhoods such as ‘Sidi Baba,’ ‘Carayan As-Saïdia,’ ‘Aïn Ash-Shbbik,’ as well as others on a national scale like ‘Douar El Hajja’ and ‘Douar El Doum’ in Rabat, ‘Carayan Skouila’ and ‘Carayan Touma’ in Casablanca, and ‘As-Sakniyya’ in Kenitra, among others.
Bourj Moulay Omar benefited from a key project titled ‘Urban Development Plan (P.D.U)’ as part of the Restructuring policy in the 1970s, aiming to eliminate tin shanty houses (slums). Today, it stands out for its social diversity, manifested through the physical structure of housing and limited infrastructure. The neighborhood now consists of several sub-districts (Houmats حومات), most of which were once slums and have been renovated, especially as part of the Urban Development Program (P.D.U), particularly during the period between 1981 and 1997. The majority of residents did not leave the neighborhood but resettled after the demolition of their substandard housing, rebuilding on the same location. This can be observed through the information below.”
Statement No. (1): The evolution of demolition operations in the “Houmats” comprising the Bourj Moulay Omar neighborhood, years 1981-1993-1997
Source: Regional Inspection of Housing, Urban Planning, and City Policy – June 2013 (As indicated by the researcher).
After the demolition process, only one or two families at most (usually the property owners) can benefit from the construction of a new home on the ruins of the old slums (“b’raka”). This explains why today, two different families can inhabit the same house, with each family having their own apartment after the joint construction of the house. As a result, other families (who used to rent a part of the tin housing in the slum) or new families formed at that time by the owner’s children are forced to leave the neighborhood (to build substandard housing in another part of the city), while waiting for future operations and programs, as outlined in the relocation policy. This can be done either within the same neighborhood, as is the case with the Ain Chbbik neighborhood, or from other neighborhoods, as is the case with the residents of the Bourj Moulay Omar neighborhood.
What characterized the Urban Development Program was the absence of a “slippage” phenomenon (transfer of land between households), unlike what occurred in other programs related to relocation or urban rehabilitation policies. This meant that beneficiary families were responsible for building their own homes in which they now live. However, in some cases, other arrangements emerged, including partnerships with other families (non-beneficiaries) who had the necessary financial resources to finance the construction, due to the inability of the first group to carry out these works. This reintroduced the concept of “cohabitation.”
Regarding the Relocation policy, which is part of the state’s efforts to eliminate slums from the urban landscape, this was the case for the city of Meknes (in parts of the Ain Chabbik neighborhood and the Marjane III neighborhood). It involves a process aimed at permanently eliminating substandard housing by relocating residents to newly developed or progressively developed settlements. This process has had several results, including the refusal of some beneficiary families to leave their original neighborhoods. This has led some of them, especially in the absence of financial resources, to sell their plots to contractors or speculators. These plots are then used to build and divide into multiple apartments for investment purposes (sale or rent), or in the best cases, they are used for partnership-based construction (the beneficiary provides the land while the contractor handles the construction). Thus, a single plot can accommodate three or more families, contributing to population density.
Neighborhoods benefiting from this state policy are now inhabited by former slum dwellers, as well as other groups who arrived through migration processes. Some of these groups come from the surrounding villages of the city of Meknes, such as “Dkhissa,” “Boudrballa,” “Haj Qaddour,” “Khnechate,” “Hjawa,” “Charagua,” as well as hamlets from the city of Agourai, among others. These groups constitute significant contributions to these neighborhoods. Others come from outside the prefecture of Meknes, especially from the provinces of “Rachidia,” “Taza,” “Taounate,” “Kariat Ba Mohammed,” and “Kenitra,” as well as some residents of socially and urbanistically fragile neighborhoods in Meknes, such as “Sidi Baba,” “Bougr’a,” “Al Bourg Al-Mashqouq,” and “Nzala Al-Riddaya,” among others. This type of migration has been previously mentioned by Dr. Bouchnefati Bouziane in one of his studies, where he called for research at various levels to highlight the importance of this phenomenon, its causes, and its consequences, particularly regarding the interactions between newcomers and established residents.
This is what we have attempted to address in this aspect, focusing on the culture of marginalization and resulting conflicts among residents.
The decision to migrate, in the absence of academic qualifications or a specific level of professional training, as well as the limited financial capital that the new immigrant possesses to meet their needs while searching for work, often leads to a search for housing in one of the poorer neighborhoods where rents are lower compared to other residential areas. This was observed through our interviews, which revealed that the main reasons respondents who were tenants chose these types of neighborhoods are the low rent amount associated with certain specific characteristics, including cohabitation, small living spaces, insecurity, and the distance from essential facilities and services.
Among the other types of migration observed in Moroccan cities today, and which we considered relevant to include in this study due to their importance in shaping neighborhood structures and increasing the phenomenon of cohabitation and shared housing, is the migration of Sub-Saharan Africans and Syrian refugees, each with their own circumstances that pushed them to leave their countries, either by force or by choice.
However, our study does not delve into the discourse of this type of migration (although it is less prevalent than the previously mentioned types) or its multidimensional approach. Our interest lies in how migrants through this migration contribute to forming a part of Moroccan society in general and the Ismaïlian city in particular. In addition to choosing to settle in vacant housing, neglected warehouses, or unused residences, some of them have opted for popular or marginalized neighborhoods, which we have observed in neighborhoods like “Bourj Moulay Omar,” “Ain Chabik,” as well as other neighborhoods such as “Mansour,” “Bassatine,” “Wislan,” and “Marjan III,” etc.
These migrants often rent small apartments inside shared and run-down houses, with a large number of people living together. This can potentially lead to material and cultural conflicts in the future.
In such neighborhoods, there may be friction between migrants who bring their own cultures and values, which can sometimes contradict those of the host society, and which they have not been able to integrate due to their diversity and multiplicity.
This can lead to various forms of conflicts and value disputes, which can affect the level of social control. This is also what Clifford Shaw and Henry McKay concluded in their study on the distribution of crime and deviance in the urban context of the city of Chicago. Thus, we are led to try to understand the impact of this cohabitation on residents by addressing the question: how can cohabitation be a factor of conflict?Haut du formulaire
Shared housing is one of the factors contributing to conflicts among residents
Coexisting with other families within the same housing often raises the issue of managing common spaces, shared facilities, and collective services. This situation entails how to manage shared facilities and amenities, such as the entrance, stairs, roof, lighting, and even water and electricity bills in the absence of individual meters. Furthermore, it also necessitates the management of the courtyard, kitchen, and sanitary facilities, such as toilets, for families sharing the same rooms of an apartment.
Daily conflicts and the tendency towards individual appropriation of communal resources can inevitably lead to disagreements and even a form of chaos and anarchy as described by Emile Durkheim. This concept is considered in social sciences as a state of disruption, anxiety, and instability in individuals resulting from the disintegration of social norms and values or the lack of a unified objective and model. Therefore, in the absence of structured management of shared spaces and elements that promote equity among all residents, this can often lead to conflicts and disputes ranging from verbal arguments to physical altercations and even the use of weapons and other forms of violence. The intensity of these conflicts varies depending on the specific circumstances, making cohabitation housing a prism through which one would understand the conflict that characterizes these disadvantaged and marginalized residential neighborhoods.
Conflict, as an inherently human phenomenon, is an inevitable component of life and human interactions. It reflects an imbalance within daily interactions, where each party seeks to maximize their own interests at the expense of others’ interests.
The concept of conflict has several definitions and has sparked different approaches and fields of interest from researchers and specialists. Linguistically for instance, the “Longman” dictionary defines conflict as a state of disagreement or discord between groups, principles, or contradictory and opposing ideas. That is, conflict arises from the contradiction or confrontation between two forces or groups, often due to antagonistic objectives.
It is the inherent complexity and interconnection of this concept, its various individual or collective levels and its variety of dimensions (psychological, social, cultural, political, economic, and historical) that make its definitions vary based on each field of knowledge. On a psychological level, this concept refers to a situation where the individual is faced with completely opposing activities or choices. In this perspective, the importance of conflict becomes evident in understanding issues related to individual human adaptation (especially in a residential environment characterized by varied origins and subcultures), as a state of discomfort or psychological pressure resulting from contradiction or lack of harmony between two desires or needs, or more. Edward Murray highlighted the importance of this concept for understanding both individual human adaptation on one hand, and processes of mental imbalance on the other.
From a social perspective, conflict, as defined by contemporary American sociologist Lewis Coser, can arise between individuals, between groups, between individuals and groups, between different groups, or even within the same group or similar groups. This concept falls within Lewis Coser’s field of interest in functionalist theory, through which he contributed to conflict theory by considering it as a confrontation related to desires, values of power, prestige, and even scarce resources. This explanation stems from the fact that conflict is a ubiquitous fundamental characteristic in various aspects of social life. It emerges from the imbalance, lack of harmony, order within a given social environment, and also from the dissatisfaction with material resources, especially shared resources.
In a similar context, the German sociologist Ralf Dahrendorf considered conflict as the outcome of relationships between individuals in disagreement about events. On the other hand, Robert MacIver argues that the nature of conflict lies more in the interaction between individuals than in the objective itself. Conflict typically arises due to a divergence of interests and is rooted in selfishness and egocentrism, prevailing over altruism.
The majority of conflicts recorded in our study of neighborhoods benefiting from slum elimination policies in Meknes (such as Bourj Moulay Omar and Ain Chabbik) are primarily related to the issue of common space usage, both in quantitative terms (frequency, duration, etc.) and qualitative terms (exclusive appropriation of certain parts of common space). This can pertain to aspects like staircases, entranceways, or rooftops. This exclusive appropriation restricts the freedom of other residents and can lead to disagreements and quarrels. Poor management of collective resources such as water and electricity, due to the large number of users, can also create tensions. The absence of social control in common spaces makes housing less safe and secure. Oscar Newman, who developed the theory of Defensible Space, argues that spaces are safer when residents feel ownership of these spaces and take responsibility for them.
By examining the common ownership of certain parts of housing, it is clear that the absence of social control can lead to deviant behaviors and even sexual assaults. For example, rooftops, staircases, courtyards, and even toilets can be conducive to clandestine encounters between men and women, resulting in problematic situations such as drug and alcohol consumption, and even consensual or non-consensual sexual relations.
Incidents of this nature have been recorded in our aforementioned study, where cases of rape and sexual assault were documented, leading victims, especially women and children, to prostitution, and to an increasing number of single mothers and illegitimate children. Such acts cannot pass without triggering disputes and conflicts between the victims’ families and the perpetrators. These conflicts can escalate to legal proceedings and courts.
Among other factors fueling disputes and conflicts within such communal housing, we note what is commonly referred to as “Tbarguig” in Moroccan dialect, a practice that particularly spreads among women. The specific physical characteristics of these housing units facilitate the disclosure of individuals’ and their families’ secrets, which is a clear violation of their privacy and personal sphere. Differently put, what residents of communal housing lack the most is privacy. In fact, 85% of the study sample admitted to the complete absence of privacy, while only 10% expressed that it was moderate. Only 5% of them enjoy some degree of independence and near-total respect for their privacy.
The absence of privacy within these types of neighborhoods characterized by a large number of collective housing units renders their inhabitant’s incapable of preserving their secrets, belongings, and even their intimacy. This is partly due to the nature of building materials and housing designs, which allow everything said and done in adjacent apartments to be heard and seen. Moreover, the absence of barriers between housing as private space and alleys and streets as public space creates many privacy issues.
This is evident through doors being open all day or direct encounters (face-to-face) at the doors and windows of most housing units. Thus, we can approach the concept of conflict in most of these housing units from another perspective. Violating individuals’ privacy is, in fact, a violation of their dignity. This concept (dignity) is a key social value worldwide. To Psychologists this concept refers to the internal feeling structured in human nature, the sense of greatness and pride among individuals, expressed through concepts like face, honor, modesty, and others, as expressed by Bourdieu.
At the same time, sociologists link it to ethics, religion, customs, and values, especially when it comes to the woman’s body (mother, wife, sister, daughter, etc.), which thus represents one of the sacred that cannot be profaned in any way. This leaves no room for doubt about the occurrence of conflicts that can result from the use of edged weapons or any other type of weapon for its defense, through physical confrontations and verbal disputes.
The issue of communal sharing was not the only source of conflict within these collective residential environments but also through the infringement on the freedom of others. One can witness this through disruptive behaviors such as shouting or noises caused by inhabitants here or there. Also through the chaos that children and teenagers can cause in their common space (the same apartment or house), as there is no educational nor recreational spaces in their neighborhood.
From Confrontation to Negotiation: Overcoming Cohabitation Issues.
Life in collective housing raises the question of the lack of independence for families residing in these spaces, as discussed earlier. This underscores the importance of respecting a social contract dictated by the spatial contract as a result of negotiations. This involves engaging in a set of agreements that frame and govern the movements of residents within the shared space. In case of a breach of this social contract, conflicts can emerge. This concept is explored by followers of Robert Park, who drew from ecology to study human behavior, in addition to concepts such as proximity and harmony, as well as conflict and contradiction.
Robert Park, one of the pioneers of the Chicago School, attempted to examine social issues addressed by conflict theories using the framework of the ecological approach, which looks at interactions between individuals and the natural environment, as well as between groups within a given geographical context. This approach aimed to explore the natural evolution of society and resulted in the conclusion that urban life is essentially a life of conflict for survival. Park, thus, addressed various social phenomena related to urban expansion, studying and analyzing them through the lens of social ecology, considering the city as a fertile social laboratory.
For their study, these researchers examined the characteristics, patterns, and values unique to this environment, as well as individuals’ attitudes and perceptions toward what they possess. According to the principles of the Chicago School, the environment is a determining factor in the behavior and values of inhabitants.
Among the different aspects of conflict studied by the pioneers of this school, ethnic and racial conflicts, gang conflicts, conflicts involving delinquents and criminals, as well as family conflicts, can be mentioned.
The latter were highlighted in William Isaac Thomas’ study of the situation of Polish peasants after their migration to America. This migration resulted in disorganization and family conflicts, as well as an increase in crime rates.
The spatial contract encompasses several dimensions, as the living space is an extension of the individual. Researcher Rachida Afilal synthesized these dimensions into three points :
- Functional Dimension: The spatial contract fulfills a fundamental function by organizing and managing space in a way that guarantees the right to common use.
- Psychosocial Dimension: The spatial contract establishes rules of interaction among residents, emphasizing balance. This requires the implementation of measures to extend and reinforce this principle.
- Structural Dimension: The spatial contract regulates the use of space and movement within it to meet the needs of residents. Thus, it promotes the continuity of residence by maintaining balance in the use of common space.
Through the study we conducted, we have identified various facets of this social and spatial contract that was established through negotiations among residents, based on principles of rights and responsibilities. The concept of negotiation can be discerned by examining the case at hand, its stakeholders, stages, and the desired objective. Negotiation is an expressive and dynamic stance between two or more parties regarding a given issue, through which viewpoints are presented, exchanged, brought closer, adapted, and aligned. All methods of persuasion are employed to preserve existing interests or gain new advantages, compelling the other party to take specific action or refrain from doing so. It is an interconnected relationship between negotiation parties toward themselves or others.
Individuals constantly need to resort to negotiation rather than engage in conflicts and use violence and force. The need for security is perhaps one of the individual’s primary motivations toward negotiation, and this can only be achieved through the interaction of that individual with others. To meet this need, the negotiator must adopt a policy of cooperation and exchange with the other party. Furthermore, the need to preserve one’s possessions, as well as personal life and privacy, is also among the individual’s other motivations. The respect for property replaces its violation and seizure through force and coercion. Without negotiations and resulting agreements, a person would not be assured of retaining anything of their belongings. Likewise, the fear for the violation of one’s honor, the honor of one’s family, and the concern for the safety of loved ones such as one’s mother, wife, daughters, and sons in the face of aggression from others, be it sexual, physical, or mental, are among the primary reasons for this negotiation.
In line with this principle of negotiation, our study led us to a series of images presented by researchers affiliated with ” Borj Moulay Omar and Aïn Chabbik.” These images revolve around how they manage their communal living space, including taking turns to perform certain household tasks such as cleaning and maintenance. Additionally, individuals in this context ensure the organization and upkeep of common facilities such as staircases, rooftops, and lighting. These activities aim to realize the principle of sharing responsibilities on one hand and fulfilling duties on the other.
These social contracts also address the management of water and electricity consumption in these residences, with residents having shared meters to avoid potential conflicts. This can be achieved through transactional agreements such as “each person must pay a sum of money when using an electrical appliance in their home.” This formula helps balance low-consumption users with high-consumption ones.
The social contract through which residential families seek to mitigate potential friction and prevent conflicts can sometimes be subject to violations, which may at times serve as an entry point to complex conflicts, including disruptions secondary to the loss of trust and betrayal of trust. Functional disruption of this spatial contract, meaning disruption in the management and organization of common space and services, will inevitably have an impact on the psychosocial level, thus creating an imbalance and consequently influencing its structural aspect.
This could ultimately impose negative repercussions on the daily lives of residential families, hindering the continuation of the cohabitation process. However, in the absence of alternatives and considering that a significant proportion of them are property owners (own apartments), it is difficult for them to abandon this asset (ownership). Therefore, housing, which is supposed to be a space of cohabitation, coexistence, harmony, and concord, can become a place of conflicts, quarrels, and daily disputes, thus losing its fundamental characteristic as a space cherished by humans and in the words of Gaston Bachler, to become a hell in the presence of others who will spoil the taste of a peaceful life, as proposed by the French philosopher and writer Jean-Paul Sartre (“Hell is other people”)
Cohabitation in shared housing provides a significant context for the phenomenon of communal living, which gains increased importance due to its prevalence in urban areas of Morocco, particularly following various initiatives aimed at eliminating inadequate housing from the urban landscape. This type of housing, due to the social issues it generates and the conflicts that can arise among its occupants, requires the activation of principles of dialogue and coexistence based on negotiation to prevent disagreements, dysfunction, and disputes.
Individual behaviors and social culture play an essential role in shaping, managing, and yielding outcomes in this process of negotiation, which represents a dynamic and evolving social exchange. Its purpose is to resolve differences of opinion and arrive at a consensus or resolution of disagreements between the involved parties, with the goal of serving their respective interests. A crucial element for the success of negotiation is an exemplary behavior, marked by sincere intentions, thereby fostering the maintenance of ongoing relationships between the parties involved.
In summary, for cohabitation in shared housing to be harmonious and productive, it is essential to promote interactions based on mutual understanding, respect, and negotiation. This approach will contribute to solving problems, preventing conflicts, and creating an environment conducive to peaceful and fruitful coexistence among residents.
Abdelhamid Dellimi, “The Housing Crisis in Algeria,” Doctorate Thesis in Urban Sociology, Institute of Sociology, Constantine, 2001, page 9.
Abderrahmane EL Maliki (2015), “Culture and Space: A Study of the Sociology of Urbanism and Migration in Morocco,” 1st edition, Publications of the Laboratory of Sociology of Social Development, Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah University – Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences Dhar El Mehraz, Fes, page 60.
Badawi, op. cit., p. 2.
Bouchnfati Bouzain, in “Urbanization and Urban Culture in Morocco: A Study on the Social Construction of Slums,” Al-Hiwar Publications, first edition, 1988.
Edward J. Murray, Conflict, The Psychological Aspects, in IESS, pp. 220 –225.
-Gaston Bachelard (1984), “The Poetics of Space,” translated by Ghaleb Halasa, second edition, University for Studies, Publishing, and Distribution, Beirut, page 38.
-Haut-Commissariat au Plan, Statistics for 2004 and 2014.
Ibn Manzour, Lisan al-Arab (undated), Volume 13, Dar Sader, Beirut, pp. 211-212.
Imed Soula (2005) – “From the Symbolic Process from the Threshold to the Center of the House: An Anthropological Reading of Traditional Tunisian Housing,” Humanities, Issue 29, April-June.
-Le Corbusier (1925)، “Urbanism,” G. Crès & Cie Editions, Paris, p. 219. Quoted by Thibaud Zuppinger, op. cit.
Louali Abdelghafour, “Housing and Crime: A Sociological Study in Neighborhoods Benefiting from Slum Elimination Policy in Meknes,” is a doctoral thesis in sociology presented at the Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences of Dhar Al Mahraz, Fes, in 2021. The document consists of 322 pages and has not been published.
Mohsen El Khodeiry (1993), “Development of Negotiation Skills,” Dar Al-Masriya Al-Lubnaniya, Cairo, p.20.
Mounir Mahmoud Badawi, “The Concept of Conflict: A Study on the Theoretical Foundations of Causes and Types,” in the journal “Future Studies,” Center for Future Studies, Assiut University, Number Three, July 1997, Page 2
-Nidal Sattouf, “Formation of the Urban Housing Fabric with an Inner Courtyard for a Single-Family Meeting Human Service, Social, and Behavioral Requirements,” Third Housing Symposium “The Neighborhood… More Than Just Housing,” High Committee for Urban Development in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 2007.
Oscar Newman (1972), “Defensible Space: People and Design in the Violent City,” London: Architectural Press.
R.E. Park, “The City as a Social Laboratory,” in Y. Grafmeyer et al. “The Chicago School,” op. cit. p. 179.
-Rachida Afilal, “Housing as Spatial Capital,” Scientific Research Journal, Institute of Scientific Research, Dossier number 43-44, 1997, page 83.
-Raja Maki Tabbara (1995) – “A Psychosocial Approach to Living Space, Field Study,” 1st edition, University for Studies, Publishing, and Distribution, Beirut, page 88.
19.- Rizika Boucheleguia, “The Role of Family Housing in Its Interior and Exterior Space in the Formation of a Child’s Personality – A Field Study in the City of Tizi Ouzou,” Journal of Architecture and Environment for Childhood, Childhood, City and Environment Laboratory, University of Batna, Algeria, Issue 01, April 1620, page 6.
-Roger Perrinjaquet, “Housing: A World of Child Socialization in Industrialized Societies,” in the book “Child Socialization Models,” Tripoli: Dar Al-Arabiya for Books, collective authors, translated by Saleh Al-Bukhari, 1984, page 167.
-Serfaty, Garzon, P. (2003)، “At Home, Territories of Privacy,” Armand Colin, Paris, p. 61.
SHAW Clifford and MacKay Henry: Juvenile Delinquency and Urban Areas. Chicago: University of Chicago Presse, (1942).
Soulef Bouzidi, “The Issue of Honor Among Women: A Critical Perspective of the University Student in Oran “Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences,” Number 16, September 2014, page 112.
Thibaud Zuppinger, “Humanism and Urbanism, Implications Perception, Axiology, and Rationality in Contemporary Thought,” Dossier 2009 – Housing, a World on a Human Scale, on the website: [Link](http://www.Implications philosophiques.org/Habitat/dossier.html), last visited on 03/16/2019.
Yankel Fijalkow (2011), “Sociology of Housing,” La Découverte Editions, Paris, p. 23.23.
 -Haut-Commissariat au Plan, Statistics for 2004 and 2014.
 – Ibn Manzour, Lisan al-Arab (undated), Volume 13, Dar Sader, Beirut, pp. 211-212.
 -Serfaty, Garzon, P. (2003)، “At Home, Territories of Privacy,” Armand Colin, Paris, p. 61.
 – Rizika Boucheleguia, “The Role of Family Housing in Its Interior and Exterior Space in the Formation of a Child’s Personality – A Field Study in the City of Tizi Ouzou,” Journal of Architecture and Environment for Childhood, Childhood, City and Environment Laboratory, University of Batna, Algeria, Issue 01, April 1620, p.6.
 -Rachida Afilal, “Housing as Spatial Capital,” Scientific Research Journal, Institute of Scientific Research, Dossier number 43-44, 1997, page 83.
 -Nidal Sattouf, “Formation of the Urban Housing Fabric with an Inner Courtyard for a Single-Family Meeting Human Service, Social, and Behavioral Requirements,” Third Housing Symposium “The Neighborhood… More Than Just Housing,” High Committee for Urban Development in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 2007.
 – Roger Perrinjaquet, “Housing: A World of Child Socialization in Industrialized Societies,” in the book “Child Socialization Models,” Tripoli: Dar Al-Arabiya for Books, collective authors, translated by Saleh Al-Bukhari, 1984, page 167.
 – Thibaud Zuppinger, “Humanism and Urbanism, Implications Perception, Axiology, and Rationality in Contemporary Thought,” Dossier 2009 – Housing, a World on a Human Scale, on the website: [Link](http://www.Implications philosophiques.org/Habitat/dossier.html), last visited on 03/16/2019.
 -Le Corbusier (1925)، “Urbanism,” G. Crès & Cie Editions, Paris, p. 219. Quoted by Thibaud Zuppinger, op. cit.
 – Raja Maki Tabbara (1995) – “A Psychosocial Approach to Living Space, Field Study,” 1st edition, University for Studies, Publishing, and Distribution, Beirut, page 88.
 – Quoted by Raja Maki Tabbara in the same reference, page 87: Cahiers internationaux de Sociologie (1982)، Volume XIXII: Presses Universitaires de France (P.U.F)، Paris.
 – Imed Soula (2005) – “From the Symbolic Process from the Threshold to the Center of the House: An Anthropological Reading of Traditional Tunisian Housing,” Humanities, Issue 29, April-June.
 – Abdelhamid Dellimi, “The Housing Crisis in Algeria,” Doctorate Thesis in Urban Sociology, Institute of Sociology, Constantine, 2001, page 9.
– Yankel Fijalkow (2011), “Sociology of Housing,” La Découverte Editions, Paris, p. 23.23.
– Fijalkow, Ibid., p. 23.
– Yankel Fijalkow is a professor of social sciences at the National School of Architecture Paris Val-de-Seine and a researcher at the Center for Research on Housing (UMR LAVUE of CNRS). He focuses on the history of social sciences in urban studies, urban and housing policies, and the gentrification of older popular neighborhoods
– Fijalkow, Ibid., p 23.
 -On-site Restructuring involves preparing the corrugated tin neighborhood by subdividing it and providing paved roads, electricity, clean water, sewage pipelines, and basic public facilities.
– This operation was implemented within the urban fabric of Meknes as part of the Marjane City project, following a royal speech in 1992. Land was made available to residents of the tin shanty neighborhoods (slums) at affordable prices. The number of slum housing sites in the city targeted by this operation at the time was estimated to be 18 neighborhoods, in addition to areas where the restructuring process failed through the Urban Development Program (P.D.U)
 – Bouchnfati Bouzain, in “Urbanization and Urban Culture in Morocco: A Study on the Social Construction of Slums,” Al-Hiwar Publications, first edition, 1988.
 – These are the interviews we conducted with a deliberately selected sample according to specific criteria, as part of our preparation for obtaining a doctorate degree, titled “Housing and Crime: A Sociological Study of Neighborhoods Benefiting from the State’s Policy to Eliminate Slums in Meknes.” We selected the neighborhoods of Bourj Moulay Omar, Ain Chabbik, and Marjane III as models.
– SHAW Clifford and MacKay Henry: Juvenile Delinquency and Urban Areas. Chicago: University of Chicago Presse, (1942).
 – Mounir Mahmoud Badawi, “The Concept of Conflict: A Study on the Theoretical Foundations of Causes and Types,” in the journal “Future Studies,” Center for Future Studies, Assiut University, Number Three, July 1997, Page 2
 – Mounir Mahmoud Badawi, op. cit. p. 2.
 – Edward J. Murray, Conflict, The Psychological Aspects, in IESS, pp. 220 –225.
– Badawi, op. cit., p. 2.
 – Oscar Newman (1972), “Defensible Space: People and Design in the Violent City,” London: Architectural Press.
 – Louali Abdelghafour, “Housing and Crime: A Sociological Study in Neighborhoods Benefiting from Slum Elimination Policy in Meknes,” is a doctoral thesis in sociology presented at the Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences of Dhar Al Mahraz, Fes, in 2021. The document consists of 322 pages and has not been published.
 – Soulef Bouzidi, “The Issue of Honor Among Women: A Critical Perspective of the University Student in Oran “Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences,” Number 16, September 2014, page 112.
 – Soulef, op. cit. p. 113..
 — R.E. Park, “The City as a Social Laboratory,” in Y. Grafmeyer et al. “The Chicago School,” op. cit. p. 179.
 – Abderrahmane EL Maliki (2015), “Culture and Space: A Study of the Sociology of Urbanism and Migration in Morocco,” 1st edition, Publications of the Laboratory of Sociology of Social Development, Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah University – Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences Dhar El Mehraz, Fes, page 60.
 – Afilal”, op. cit, page 91.
 – Mohsen El Khodeiry (1993), “Development of Negotiation Skills,” Dar Al-Masriya Al-Lubnaniya, Cairo, p.20.
 – For example, if the accommodation (apartment or room) is equipped with multiple appliances (television, refrigerator, and washing machine), the owner will pay for their consumption an amount equivalent to the average electricity bill divided by the total number of appliances in the accommodation.
 – When some of them discreetly use small electricity-intensive electrical devices without reporting them, such as the iron, certain electronic games, and computers.