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Mirek Dymitrow

Postdoctoral fellow

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Degradation and restitution: Understanding the concept of urbanity through its oscillations within formal contexts

Author

  • Mirek Dymitrow
  • Robert Krzysztofik

Editor

  • Robert Krzysztofik
  • Mirek Dymitrow

Summary, in English

In this concluding chapter, our aim is to outline the state-of-the-art within the deliberated topic in order to identify challenges for future research. Firstly, reminiscent of George Orwell’s aphorism “who controls the past controls the future”, we stress the importance of research into the origins of degraded and restituted towns in order to understand the socio-economic context that has shaped their current situation. It is important to separate myth from accounts based on first-hand archival documentation and compelling historiographical deduction. This is particularly true of narratives embracing issues of justice, democracy and power, as often is the case with the rural-urban discourse in Poland. Secondly, the concepts of urbanity and rurality are often accompanied by stories of demise and success; in other words, they are not value-free. As of now, there is still a dearth of studies that would look into how degradation and restitution actually affect socio-economic change and steer development into certain – desired or undesired – outcomes. In order to avoid creating artificial problems, we need to better isolate the linkage between development and the spatial label it purportedly embodies. Thirdly, linear accounts of social phenomena may be convenient but seldom provide an appropriate abstraction. We must not unreflectively accept the transition “from urban to rural” and “from rural to urban” as propitious just because it has been sanctioned by a governmental decree. More in-depth empirical studies on the problems both degradation and restitution may incur are needed, particularly case-based research dedicated to the perceptions of those closest to the effects of cultural convictions and normative perspectives brought on by the rural-urban distinction. In conclusion, degradation and restitution are not one-dimensional concepts. As the plurality of topics undertaken in this book shows, the concepts can be handled in a multitude of ways. As each comes with its own variety of ontological commitments, theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches, the results differ. But they all have one thing in common: they contribute to a deeper understanding of the often taken-for-granted concept of urbanity. Urbanity is complex, transient and indefinable and therefore increasingly elusive. In that light, understanding urbanity as it emerges, evolves, consolidates, ruptures and finally reconstitutes itself through the practices of degradation and restitution makes an invaluable asset to multifaceted production of knowledge on various social processes and their inseparable geographical contexts.

Publishing year

2015

Language

English

Pages

443-461

Publication/Series

Degraded and restituted towns in Poland: Origins, development, problems

Document type

Book chapter

Publisher

University of Gothenburg

Topic

  • Social and Economic Geography

Keywords

  • degraded towns
  • restituted towns
  • urbanity
  • rurality
  • formalization
  • Poland

Status

Published

ISBN/ISSN/Other

  • ISBN: 91-86472-76-3
  • ISBN: 91-86472-76-3