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Jan Barski and Maciej Zathey


This descriptive paper outlines the post-industrial setting and industrial heritage in both a concrete case – south-western Poland – and some general respects, with the aim of contributing to the available knowledge about the contemporary post-industrial areas in Central Eastern Europe. To produce such an outline and to offer such a contribution, the paper offers an overview of the changes that happened in Poland since the transformation of 1989/90 with the special focus put on the industrial sector in the small- and medium-sized towns in the south-western border region of Poland. Moreover, the paper describes how the political and economic changes have impacted industry in Poland immediately after the transformation, as well as how the evolution of the political and economic situation has been shaping the industrial sector along the years until today. Further, to solidify the broad background of post-industrial regions, the paper touches upon topics that are more specific and interconnected: location of industry, employment rate changes, regional development policies, local development inequalities, and vocational schooling system. The most specific descriptions in the paper focus on the industrial heritage in the towns and cities in the region of Lower Silesia. Apart from reviewing the industrial history of Poland and of the selected western regions, this paper looks into the future by commenting on the transition between the so-called 2.0, 3.0, and 4.0 industry phases and discusses whether small- and medium-sized towns in the Polish border areas are able to become connected to the future industrial network.