Chasing Warsaw: Socio-Material Dynamics of Urban Change by (eds.) Monika Grubbauer, Joanna Kusiak

By (eds.) Monika Grubbauer, Joanna Kusiak

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The restitution implemented in very different forms in the CEE countries, with different consequences for land use changes and urban property markets, is a frequently cited case in point. However, despite the acknowledgment of different institutional contexts and path-dependencies, the larger part of the literature on the post-socialist city is not interested in explaining differences in urban transformation dynamics. This is reflected in the lack of systematic comparative studies between cities, and even more so between urban quarters or smaller units such as housing estates or urban blocks.

Phenomena such as the influx of foreign capital, the emergence of commercial property markets, the rising importance of consumption activities and the growth of the retail sector are regarded as the consequences of these institutional reconfigurations. g. , 51). Alternatively, similarities in post-socialist urban transformations are seen as the result of material legacies of the socialist city (Borén and Gentile 2007). Although it is a matter of controversy whether the socialist city ever existed as a distinct, autonomous urban model,2 there is broad agreement that cities under socialism developed a set of specific socio-spatial features that set them apart from cities in capitalist Western Europe and North America.

At the same time, the large cities of the region experienced growing disparities in income and work opportunities. Tendencies of gentrification emerged and poverty in cities became increasingly visible. As a consequence, from the mid-1990s onward the major cities of the region underwent profound processes of spatial reorganization, economic and labor market restructuring and a reconstitution of their social and cultural life. The size and speed of urban spatial, economic and social transformations have made urban and regional change in post-socialist societies a major subject of research (Kovácz 1994, 1999; Sýkora 1994; Andrusz et al.

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