The emergence of enclaves of wealth and poverty : A sociological study of residential differentiation in post-communist Poland
Abstract: Since the fall of communism, some crucial political, economic and social changes have been taking place in the former communist societies. The objective of the thesis is to examine the processes of residential differentiation taking place in the urban landscape of the Polish city of Gdańsk after the introduction of the capitalist system. The focus is on different forms of residential differentiation and the social, economic and historical factors behind these forms. The empirical material that forms the basis of the thesis consists of interviews, newspaper articles, a questionnaire, official (national and local) reports and documents.Study I examines the way in which different social, economic, historical and physical conditions coincide in the formation of space and the processes of decline in the period of transformation in Poland. The focus lies on a specific residential area in the center of Gdańsk and the lack of improvements in this particular area, which would stop its successive decline.Study II explains the emergence of gated communities in the post-communist urban context and discusses the reasons for their increasing numbers and popularity. The main argument is that the popularity of gated communities is tightly intertwined with the communist past, emerging in reaction to the housing conditions that prevailed under communism.Study III investigates how social class markers are constructed in the discourse on gated communities in post-socialist Poland. The “new” capitalistic system, with its inherent social divisions, is described in the discourse as creating demands for “new” forms of housing, where gates function as separators, protectors and class identifiers.Study IV concentrates on the support for the formation of gated communities in the legal and regulatory framework in Poland since 1989. The paper asserts that the outcome of liberal politics and legal regulation in the country is the neglect of spatial planning and imprecise urban policies.
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