First International Conference of Young Urban Researchers (FICYUrb)
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MAGDALENA SZMYTKOWSKA

Socio-spatial structures of Polish cities: planned socialist mosaic vs. spontaneous post-socialist homogeneity

MAGDALENA SZMYTKOWSKA
GDANSK UNIVERSITY, POLAND

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     Last modified: May 24, 2007
     Presentation date: 06/12/2007 10:00 AM in ISCTE-II B202
     (View Schedule)

Abstract
The ideology of communism assumed the perfect social egalitarianism which should proceed to the amorphous social structure. The crucial goal of this politics was the reducing of social differences and unequal prospects. Actually enormous number of people especially descended from the working class or from small villages was promoted in the social structure. But on the other hand educated and strong intellectually individuals were efficiently smothered. Official powers wanted to demolish ‘capitalist’ society and economy from before the Second World War. They abolished the private ownership and became managers-controllers of everybody and everything. The rule of social egalitarianism found the material expression in the construction of large residential districts complex of blocks of badly equipped flats. It was planned to mix people having different level of education, social status, human capital, professions etc.
Nowadays the political and socio-economic transformation caused natural and spontaneous changes in the urban spaces of cities in Poland. Free market and return of private ownership are the fundamental reasons of social changes which are reflected in the spatial structure of city. It is a time of spectacular gentrification of the city centers and development of residential districts with detached and terraced buildings. There are new building companies offering to wealthy people new and comfortable flats and houses in prestigious city places. Post-socialist buildings will become the places of accumulation of poverty, poorly educated and socially excluded inhabitants. The crucial point is who has a choice of a living place and who is constrained to stay in previous place in spite of individual needs and expectations.

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