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The concept of ‘rural’ as a psychosocial process: From concept attainment to concept unlearning

Abstract

Realising that human geography has been defined less by its canonical works but rather by its canonical concepts, the current status of the concept ‘rural’ puts a question mark over progress in human geography in terms of how well we have been able to adapt knowledge to reciprocate with societal change at large. As one of the oldest geographical concepts still in widespread use, ‘rural’ stands in stark contrast to the immense changes encountered by the society during the last century, let alone decades. And while this problem has been approached both empirically and philosophically, not enough stress has been put on the cognitive and sociological processes that have governed the attainment and retention of ‘rural’ in science, and beyond. In this vein, the aim of this paper is to provide a structured argument for facilitating a view of ‘rural’ less as a geographical space and more as a concept purportedly thought to define such space by way of inculcation.

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The concept of social risk: A geographical approach

Abstract

Social risk is an interdisciplinary concept used with various meanings in the social and in the natural sciences. The article presents some of the social insights into this concept, particularly in connection with the global environmental research project and with geography. The special dimension of social risks, as well as some current methodological aspects regarding models and the main indicators used in the multidimensional assessment of social risks are analysed at local, regional and national levels. Of special interest is the link between social risks and a series of key-concepts, such as: hazard, impact, social vulnerability, resilience, adaptive capacity.

Open access
Decision-making tool for a constructive relation between emblematic facilities and urban regeneration projects applied to the case of Riad El Feth Arts Centre in Algiers

Abstract

Considered as a lever for urban regeneration politics, the construction of emblematic facilities is also a way to enhance metropolitan attractiveness. The Algerian capital is no exception to this rule. These new urban icons are designed to be the catalysts of urban change, and are expected to improve the adaptation of metropolitan localities to new needs and developmental challenges. However, in the field, this iconic regeneration does not always bring the expected changes. The Riad El Feth Arts Centre, an iconic facility located in the central municipality of El Madania in Algiers, is one example. In this paper we propose an operational tool called EFLUR (Emblematic Facilities Leverage of Urban Regeneration), intended to facilitate urban decision-making by evaluating the leverage of emblematic facilities at targets of urban strategy. It helps to assesses and optimise their leverage capacity by identifying their failures and opportunities, with a view to undertaking necessary actions, both to amplify positive contamination and to limit detrimental effects. The Riad El Feth is selected as a study case to validate our approach and test the operationality of EFLUR. Beyond conventional impact studies, the value of this tool lies in its holistic approach and capacity to combine metropolitan objectives with local development strategies.

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Does the process of shrinking concern also small towns? lessons from Poland

Abstract

The approach to the issue of shrinking cities is undergoing constant changes. Originally, this process was referred primarily to the progressing depopulation connected with a deteriorating economic situation. Presently, works on shrinking cities mainly focus on the challenges posed by the problem rather than the delimitation questions. Do the shrinking also apply to the situation of small towns, and if so, to what extent may small towns shrink? Being conscious of the multidimensional nature of the topic discussed, the authors took measures aimed at singling out a group of shrinking towns from the whole set of small towns in Poland. The identification of depopulating centres consisted in pointing to those shrinking both in terms of their demography and economy. This type of research gives rise to all types of methodological problems such as which tools should be used to measure town shrinking or which data should be selected for the research, an issue particularly important for small towns where the range of indicators available is rather limited. What conclusions may be drawn from the conducted analysis? Do small towns in Poland shrink? On the basis of the conducted research the answer is no. With regard to demography, the process of shrinking concerns only 30 towns (4.5%). And this group includes only four which additionally shrink in economic terms.

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The dynamics of landscape pattern changes in mining areas: The case study of the Adamów-Koźmin Lignite Basin

Abstract

Mining belongs to the types of human activity that have a significant impact on the environment, and especially on the landscape. The main objective of this study is a quantitative diagnosis of the dynamics of land use changes and landscape pattern modification in areas shaped under the influence of processes related to the open pit exploitation of lignite. The study was carried out in the Adamów-Koźmin Lignite Basin, which is a model example of an area affected by strong anthropogenic pressure. An assessment of changes was carried out using a set of maps depicting land use in the period preceding the exploitation of lignite (the year 1940) and after over 60 years of the mining activity in this area (as of 2011). The source materials for mapping for the first period were archival maps and for the second period, an orthophotomap. The heads-up digitising method was used to determine 7 types of land-cover classes according to the definitions of Corine Land Cover. Ten landscape metrics for five categories of landscape features (surface, shape, neighbourhood, edge, spatial distribution and diversity) were used in the landscape pattern analysis. The results do not confirm the hypothesis of a significant landscape simplification after reclamation. The shape of patches in the landscape was more complex and the number of land-use types was higher, which combined with their spatial arrangement, caused the landscape pattern to be more diversified in the year 2011.

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Economic and spatial strategies of artists as cultural entrepreneurs

Abstract

The text aims to explore the economic and spatial strategies followed by artists who run micro-firms. The authors analyse results of a qualitative study of independent artist enterprises in Kraków. It reveals that motivations for artistic entrepreneurship are diverse and foremost linked with the need to overcome challenges artists experience in the labour market and in the market for cultural goods and services. Different strategies translate into particular location choices as well as varied visibility of such firms in urban space.

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From policy to misery? the state agricultural farms vs. ‘the rural’

Abstract

1989 was a turning point in the socio-economic development in the former Eastern bloc, initiating a systemic transformation that affected the society at large. It also contributed to the crystallisation of certain cultural landscapes, hitherto largely illegible due to the inhibition of spatial processes encountered during socialism. In Poland, after a quarter-century of a free market economy, the focus on social problems began to expand to the spatial realm as well. It became apparent that the progressive social polarisation that followed was most prominent in environments striated by a particular landscape type – the former State Agricultural Farm (PGR). Considering PGRs as ‘the epitome of rurality’ subject to ideas informing about the direction of contemporary ‘rural development’ prompts a different way of looking at the problem. In this paper, we investigate the concept of rurality in the discursive tenor of implemented policy and contrast it with contextualised empirical examples. Our findings suggest that an efficient policy should be confronted with the expectations of residents at the local level, and introducing top-down actions usually ends in failure as in the case of post-PGR estates.

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Merchandise trade in the eaeu integrating environment

Abstract

The paper aims to identify the main trends and recommendations for the development of merchandise trade in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) integrating environment through the analysis of its mutual and foreign (internal and external) merchandise trade. The study is based on the official statistical data for 2014–2018 and economic comparisons and systematisation (including geographical systematisation). The results show that the intensification of mutual and foreign trade in the EAEU is possible by stimulating consumer and industrial demand, enhancing exports of high tech products and diversifying exports, and strengthening the cooperation within the EAEU and with other countries and integration associations.

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Recent population development of very small municipalities in the Czech Republic

Abstract

The problem of municipalities under 200 inhabitants is discussed. There are 1,500 such municipalities (24%) in the Czech Republic. Many of them came to existence after 1989 when the independence of communes was considered part of the democratisation process regardless of the population number. This paper aims at a statistical evaluation of municipalities with fewer than 200 inhabitants and presents their geographical distribution, demographic development and analysis of their aging. In general, 70% of these very small municipalities have been growing since 2001. The smallest of them have the highest percentage of the population decline and are the most endangered by aging. Very small municipalities with the highest population growth are situated mainly in the vicinity of larger towns, the ones with the highest population decline are located mainly in peripheral areas at the border of regions.

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