Development and urbanisation: the case study of Amol and Mazandaran province, Iran.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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Many developing countries in the 1950s, and 1960s adopted a growth centred strategy
which was a centralised approach to development with the main focus on efficiency. But
this strategy failed to improve the socio-economic situation of the majority of their rural
population because it ignored the needs of the urban and rural economy i.e. agriculture,
especially in commodities-based export countries. From 1970s onwards, the emphasis
has shifted towards more a decentralised approach to development with a rural
development bias. But the experience of different countries shows that with such a
strategy the objective of equity is attained at the cost of efficiency and national growth.
In both the centralised and decentralised approaches, the small towns and intermediate
cities remain neglected. The researchers and planners have argued that in countries with
an unbalanced settlement hierarchy, especially in the case of urban primacy, equity and
efficiency could be achieved by promoting the development of smaller settlements which
would integrate the entire urban hierarchy. To get the context for the empirical study, a
literature review is undertaken. This examines the theoretical and empirical approaches
to the study of development and urbanisation in developing countries. Then, the
urbanisation process in Iran is discussed in detail, with particular reference being placed
upon the socio-economic transition in the pre and post-Revolutionary era.
The present research investigates the impact of development policies on urbanisation in
Iran in general and at the provincial level in particular. The centralised development
policy of the pre-Revolutionary period created severe regional disparities despite the
availability of great wealth (oil) and undermined the peasant economy of the mass rural
population. The most conspicuous consequence of this policy was rural-urban migration
and rapid growth of urbanisation. This study investigates the impact and effect of such
policy in an area where the dependency on agriculture is very high. The post-
Revolutionaiy development policies tend to be decentralised and shown a greater
concern with agriculture. Thus the research aims to evaluate the effect of a new
decentralised policy on rural and urban development at the regional level in Mazandaran
province. By closer study of Amol city, the research investigates the impact of rural
prosperity on an intermediate city and its hinterland. The research has shown that
although the new sectoral development (agriculture) decreased the overall economic gap
between rural and urban areas, it has failed to prevent migration and the rapid urban
expansion of small cities such as Amol.
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