“East meets West” – on studying “Eastern” housing estates through “Western” concepts and approaches

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Abstract

This paper is directly associated with the international conference “East meets West – contemporary urban issues revisited”.

The main objective of the paper is to provide readers with ideas related to the possibility of studying the “Eastern” (post-socialist) housing estates through selected “Western” concepts including representation, symbolism, everydayness/everyday life and the complexity of relations including the materiality or socio-technical configuration of places.

The paper consists of three main sections: in the introductory section, basic information and knowledge regarding (large) housing estates are concisely presented and discussed. By means of illustrative examples, the second main section of the paper covers a brief presentation of selected “Western” concepts. The final section focuses on the discussion of the concepts’ usefulness and of the methods through which they can be utilised. The main ideas and conclusions resulting from this paper can be stated as follows:

  1. particular housing estates in CEE countries find themselves in a common, yet at the same time always in one way or another specific and individual “post-socialist situation”;
  2. to understand the situation of a particular housing estate means to understand the structural influences as well as the agency of particular (local) actors, either human or non-human;
  3. housing estates can be seen as dynamic, ever-changing socio-technical-spatial formations constantly passing through a continuous process of (re) production by various forces/actors and (power) relations.

Introduction

Nowadays the study of (large) housing estates (HEs) presents a multidisciplinary field of research in its own right. A whole body of literature and knowledge points to various issues, problems, and challenges associated with HEs which are found in different parts of the world. Nevertheless, it can’t be said that we have got all the answers to all possible questions in this regard.

One of my basic standpoints throughout the preparation of this paper was the following. It is proposed that HEs are dynamic, ever-changing socio-technical-spatial formations constantly passing through a continuous process of (re)production by various forces/actors and (power) relations. This produces new and varied topics and issues deserving the attention of academics, local authorities, and inhabitants as well as other agents involved in their development.

The main objective of this article is to provide the reader with some ideas related to the opportunities for applying certain “Western” concepts and approaches in the study of HEs in the “Eastern” context (the interpretation of the terms “Western” and “Eastern” will be explained in the following section).

The main questions this paper seeks to answer can be stated as follows:

  • Which “Western” concepts and approaches can be useful for studying “Eastern” HEs?
  • Why can these concepts and approaches be perceived as being useful?

Motivation and positionality

This article has been prepared on the occasion of, and is directly associated with, the international conference “East meets West – contemporary urban issues revisited” organised by the staff of the Urban Development Issues journal in October 2017. More specifically, the article focuses on the topic of housing estates, i.e. the main topic of one of the conference sessions in which I was honoured to have the opportunity to actively participate in the role of keynote speaker.

My own position in preparing the paper was influenced by several factors which were at work. Two of them which I find meaningful and which can be mentioned here are the following:

  • I grew up in one of the Czechoslovak panel-built HEs during the communist era and so my own personal history and identity is relevant regarding the main topic of the article;
  • I am a geographer with a long-term interest in (among other topics) issues of research into the quality of life in urban areas including HEs (e.g. Andráško 2004, 2006a, 2008a, 2013; Andráško et al. 2013, Šimáček et al. 2015).

The last introductory remark relates to the use of the words “West”/”Western” and “East”/”Eastern” in the title and throughout this article. That which is “Western” is meant to be primarily related to “Western Europe” or to “capitalist/(neo)liberal” countries as opposed to the significantly different context of “(post)socialist” (European or CEE) countries herein referred to as the “East”. Obviously, such utilization and interpretations of the terms mentioned are disputable. My use of them in this manner in the text is primarily influenced by the intention to fit in with the main title of the conference. From this point onwards both of the terms will be used without quotation marks.

General and brief comments on HEs and research concerning them

A huge body of issues and problems as well as literature and knowledge is associated with HEs at the present time (and is still growing). It is not my aim here to offer a comprehensive literature review – especially when there are recent up-to-date studies of this kind already to hand (e.g. Eröss 2013; Szafrańska 2015; Šimáček et al. 2015; Gorczyca 2016). I will rather focus on mentioning only some basic issues and information that will serve as a foundation for the following parts of the paper.

(Large) housing estates have their own and relatively long history and the same can be said about research on them. Space and place in their temporal context played a substantial role in determining the fate of HEs. The location of HEs in Western and Eastern countries can probably be considered the most important aspect with the most general application in this regard. As aptly and comprehensively stated by S. Kabisch & K. Grossmann (2013: 232), “[t]he situation of housing estates in Europe differs very much between western [sic] European countries and former eastern [sic] European socialist countries. The political goals behind their construction, the diversity of ownership structures as well as the quantitative scope of this neighbourhood type provides the background for the diverging pathways of such estates”. Indeed, the essential differences and effects associated with the Western and Eastern location of HEs have been acknowledged by many authors (e.g. van Kempen et al. 2005; Erőss 2013; Šimáček et al. 2015), many pointing also to another important aspect of the East-West division, the fundamental differences in social composition and configuration. While in Western countries HEs were (and still are) mostly inhabited by low income social groups (like blue collar workers, immigrants, marginalised social groups etc.) and only accounted for a relatively small share of housing stock, in Central and Eastern European (socialist) countries the HEs provided, if not the dominant, then at least a substantial share of housing opportunities and became homes for a much broader social spectrum of inhabitants (see e.g. van Kempen et al. 2005; Szafrańska 2015; Gorczyca 2016). In other words, living in HEs, especially those built by panel technologies, became a “normal” standard of living in CEE countries during the socialist era. For instance, as E. Kallabová (2004) puts it, in the Czech Republic the share of HEs accounted for approximately one third of the total housing stock as well as of the population of the whole state in 1990. Although the HEs in CEE countries had to face a variety of new challenges after the fall of Iron Curtain (like substantial changes in the ownership of apartments, initially connected with the process of privatisation) and their individual development trajectories became more diverse than ever before (see e.g. Egedy 2000; Kallabová 2002, 2004; Wassenberg, Turkington & van Kempen 2004; Maier 2005; Temelová et al. 2011; Kovács & Herfert 2012), their wide ranging social structure as well as importance when considering housing options is still generally preserved (see e.g. Kährik & Tammaru 2010; Szafrańska 2010, 2014; Marcińczak & Sagan 2011; Špaček 2012; Kabisch & Grossmann 2013; Šimáček et al. 2015; Gorczyca 2016). Of course, this does not mean that there are no problems regarding HEs and that there are no challenges associated with their renewal and overall future. On the contrary, a huge number of studies have identified and pointed out some of the challenges and problems and (usually) offered (as should be expected from academic works) some possible solutions (e.g. Kallabová 2002; Sunega & Lux 2004; Węcławowicz et al. 2005; Warchalska-Troll 2012).

When talking about research on HEs, it seems beneficial to make one important remark at this point. It is a significant, though usually overlooked, fact that interest in HEs can be either implicit or explicit (another possible classification of works regarding HEs has been proposed by E. Szafrańska 2015).

The “implicit” viewpoint then subsumes studies that are not directly oriented towards the study of HEs, but rather towards the investigation of selected topics and issues in the entire territories of urban areas. However, in rather thematically wide ranging works, in expert studies dealing with multidimensional issues of socio-spatial structure, differentiation of environmental/living conditions and quality of life in urban areas, or in studies focused upon more specific topics like traffic, mobility, criminality, air pollution, local government activities and many other aspects of the urban environment, HEs appear and are constantly being identified as particular and highly specific parts and parcels of urban territories and structures (see e.g. Bašovský, Paulov & Ira 1981; Bezák 1987; Vystoupil & Węcławowicz 1987; Matlovič 1998; Steinführerová 2003; Andráško 2006b, 2008b, c; Ondoš & Korec 2006; Borén & Gentile 2007; Matlovič & Sedláková 2007; Ira & Andráško 2008; Križan, Tolmáči & Lauko 2008; Matlovič & Nestorová-Dická 2009; Marcińczak & Sagan 2011; Siwek 2011; Čupeľová 2012; Frantál et al. 2012; Buček & Korec 2013; Kunc et al. 2013; Nestorová-Dická 2013, 2014).

The other point of view is the “explicit” one. This includes investigations that are explicitly focused on HEs and various issues relating to them. Once again, this category includes more general as well as more specifically oriented studies aimed at a vast array of topics, issues and problems falling within its scope: quality of life, criminality, urban renewal activities, development strategies and trajectories, changes in social and demographic structure, problems of marginal or marginalised social groups, personal histories, behaviour and activities, image and perception of the living environment or issues of public spaces or local identities. These represent just a few examples and a fraction of the available knowledge in this regard (see e.g. Power 1997; Mládek, Kovalovská & Chovancová 1998; Maier 2003, 2005; Murie, Knorr-Siedow & van Kempen 2003; van Kempen et al. 2005; Knorr-Siedow & Droste 2005; Bleha & Popjaková 2007; Musterd & van Kempen 2007; Kährik & Tammaru 2010; Rodzoš & Flaga 2010; Dekker et al. 2011; Neugebauer, Wiest & Krupickaite 2011; Temelová et al. 2011; Wiest 2011; Kovács & Herfert 2012; Špaček 2012; Warchalska-Troll 2013; Andráško et al. 2013; Herfert, Neugebauer & Smigiel 2013; Sargsyan 2013; Szabó 2013; Šuška & Stasíková 2013; Ira 2015; Gorczyca 2016).

Individual studies, besides the other information that they offer, attract our attention to, and raise awareness of, the indisputable and in geography widely recognised fact that places (in this case HEs or their particular elements) are not isolated spatial entities, but rather parts of spatial systems and/or structures characterised by complex relations. Different HEs share some common problems and challenges, often resulting from structural influences, changes and developments. Processes like suburbanisation, globalisation and many others alter the pathways of individual HEs (see e.g. Sýkora 1999; Klusáček & Vaishar 2008; Klusáček et al. 2009; Matlovič et al. 2009; Nestorová-Dická & Lovacká 2009; Posová & Sýkora 2011; Lukáčová & Sovičová 2013; Šuška 2014).Yet, at the same time, it seems beneficial to keep in mind that local conditions and the agency of local actors can also significantly alter the pathways of HEs. I will build on this idea in the next section of the article.

Western concepts in the Eastern context: introducing selected concepts and approaches

In this section of the paper, I will focus on some of the Western concepts that I find it useful to mention here separately. The concepts that will be briefly discussed (in relation to HEs) include:

  1. representation, symbolism and meanings, discourse, and identity;
  2. everydayness, everyday life practices/activities/routines, embodiment and emotions;
  3. the complexity of relations including the materiality or socio-technical configuration of places.

These interrelated and more or less overlapping concepts can be presented as “Western concepts” since their origin and use is primarily connected with the West. Influenced and ignited by the development of social and cultural theories and associated with what is known as the cultural turn (see Johnston & Sidaway 2004; Horton & Kraftl 2014), embedded in postmodern, feminist, (post)structuralist, postcolonial and (more generally) social constructionist thinking as well as being at same time even more deeply rooted in various older schools of (philosophical) thought, these concepts (as with other concepts not directly mentioned here), nowadays build up a fecund basis for research and interpretation of its results (not only) in the social sciences, including some of the recent approaches in human/urban/cultural geography (see e.g. Daněk 2013; Couper 2015). The concepts and approaches related to them can be perceived as results yet at the same time sources of thinking associated with the ways in which the knowledge is being produced, the viewpoint(s) we have got and which we apply in our activities considering the constitution of what can be called “reality”, and, subsequently, the procedures of acquiring and interpreting information.

Influenced and informed by feminist approaches (see Blažek & Rochovská 2006), the knowledge is being understood as situated, entwined with power and context-dependent, while the reality is being perceived as symbolically structured, hybrid and fluid, an ever-changing mixture of human/social and (especially in some approaches) non-human actors and their complex relations (see Haraway 1991; Whatmore 2003; Andráško 2013; Horton & Kraftl 2014; Šuška 2014; Blazek 2016). In this vein, the predominant role of (social) structures (particularly social class) has been questioned, criticised, weakened and “reformed” in a way to attract the attention of scientists to the “surface”, to the mundane, taken-for-granted components and processes of “everyday” life, networks of diverse actors producing (and being produced by) places and spaces through multiple (and constantly changing) axes of social and individual identity/difference, representations, meanings, emotions, bodily practices and power relations. “New” methods (some of the procedures can’t be taken to be really new since they also have been used previously) have gradually been devised and developed in concordance with such a shift in thinking and investigation. Analyses of text or discourse analysis and the techniques of what would I express here as “coming down and closer” to the people rather for the sake of understanding than of (universally) explaining (like in-depth interviews, participant observation, and ethnographic research) represent only a subtle, though highly indicative fraction of the whole range of possible research procedures in this regard.

HEs: symbolism, representation, and identity

The (changing) symbolism of places does not represent a new topic in human geography (or generally in the social sciences) (see e.g. Azaryahu & Kook 2002; Foote & Azaryahu 2007; Erőss & Tátrai 2010). Connected with the concept of representation and the “representational turn” (Hubbard 2006: 93), the fundamental idea here is the one that reality is symbolically structured and landscapes (as well as anything else) can be interpreted as text. HEs can then be seen as places with a variety of ascribed meanings, values or ideas expressed through a variety of “channels” (like media, expert studies, planning documents or forms of built environment). The interpretive framework draws upon several social and cultural theories (see Horton & Kraftl 2014) and informs us (for instance) that representations, symbolism, and meanings are not neutral and final outcomes – on the contrary, they are entwined with power and they work back, forming and affecting the space and lives of people.

The symbolic meaning(s) and significance of HEs in the socialist and post-socialist environment seem to be unquestionable. What makes such symbolism particularly interesting is its manifold nature that does not have to be evident at first sight. For instance, “reading” the HEs informs us e.g. about the social, cultural, historical or political backgrounds of the era during which they have been “written” into the landscape, i.e. planned, built and inhabited. We can see HEs as a product of the need to offer accommodation to thousands of people (and that is the way HEs were represented by the media at the time they were built, see Archiv ČT24 2017). Another facet can then be revealed by asking why the accommodation was so urgently needed at that time. One can argue with the post-war situation and intentions to improve housing standards (see Kallabová 2004; van Kempen et al. 2005; Erőss 2013; Szafrańska 2015; Šimáček et al. 2015), but another one could rather see the (politically ordered) socio-spatial processes as a decisive factor. To provide an example, in Slovakia (formerly part of Czechoslovakia) the planning and construction of HEs during the 60s, 70s, and 80s of the 20th century was connected with widespread efforts to industrialise and urbanise the country. A massive and regulated concentration of people in urban areas occurred during this period in an environment vastly (though not exclusively) controlled by the Communist Party. These processes led to (and were part of) the centralisation of power and a substantial “reform” of and change in the country’s settlement system (see e.g. Falťan 2010; Krejčí et al. 2010). Communist regimes could decide about the lives of millions of people and they did so on a large scale thus imposing their power and ideology over the landscape (while at the same time legitimising it). This way HEs can be seen as remarkable symbols of power, of efforts to rule nature and history. Indeed, no natural conditions were considered to be complicated enough to prevent construction work (see Photo 1) and the historical pathways of continuous social and spatial development were regularly suspended and raped. Places were dramatically altered to produce new spaces that most of all symbolise that nothing is impossible for communists. An example can serve the procedures under which whole villages were often destroyed to pave the way for large spatial concentrations of multi-storey houses, moulding, in addition to other factors, the often represented (in many cases over- and misrepresented as well as overrated) gap between the “new”, impersonal, “dehumanised” (see Andráško 2006a) urban environment and the (perceived to be) traditional, warm and friendly rural environment. An illustrative example can be seen in the Czech(oslovak) movie Vesničko má středisková (My sweet central village, 1985, directed by Jiří Menzel) where one of the main characters has to move to live in a newly built panel HE. Emotionally coloured scenes show him to be lost in the concrete jungle and alone in the crowds of hurrying and reserved people. As a final relief, the character is saved by his friend who takes him back to the arms of his beloved village, to the familiar and rather amicable environment. Paradoxically, what the movie is not (directly) talking about is the fact that even the “sweet village” is a “central” one – in former Czechoslovakia, the idea of a centralised settlement system has been planned, promoted and realised over the long-term. While some places were stated to be “central”, i.e. intended for development (through the concentration of working opportunities, housing stock, and people), in others development was banned (such villages were sometimes referred to as “for extinction”). So, from this point of view, the “bad” HE (which needs to be escaped) and the “good”, sweet village, were basically the products of the same processes and power relations.

Photo 1
Photo 1

Nothing can stop us – panel houses built in hilly, hard-to-reach terrain above the River Svitava (Adamov, Czech Republic)

Source: I. Andráško

Citation: Urban Development Issues 55, 3; 10.2478/udi-2018-0001

The previously cited idea of escaping the “anonymous” environment of HEs was (and still seems to be) a widespread one. In another (Czecho)slovak movie Utekajme, už ide (Let’s run away, he is coming!, 1986, directed by Dušan Rapoš), an idea like this constantly recurs in different forms. The “poetic” scene of sitting in a quiet garden can serve as an example opposed to the inescapable need to return to the hectic surroundings of the HE, the large (probably gypsy) family spending more time outside the panel house than inside it or the principal motive of the movie – the hole in one of the panels, through which the main character’s family can temporarily (and surreptitiously) relegate from their small flat to the big one of their single and well-off neighbour (the fact that the socialist HEs were socially mixed does not mean that social differences were not at play when it came to apartment size or the time people needed to wait for its allocation – this idea also recurs throughout the movie and the dialogues of the characters on many occasions suggest the working of the current social and power relations).

Some of the ideas expressed in the movies can no doubt be seen as exaggerated. Of special importance here seems to be the representation of HEs as “dehumanised” places. But how can “dehumanised” places at the same time be full of people and their experiences, values, ideas, memories, bodies, and emotions?

HEs: everyday life

Though the power communists exercised through the built environment and the processes connected with living in HEs played a substantial role in forming the lives and identities of masses of people, there were obviously other “forces” also at play here – “forces” coming from “below” produced by those “ordinary” people living their everyday lives in the estates. The latter of the two previously mentioned movies is in fact about such lives and shows how people could resist and subvert the prescribed and regulated forms of behaviour through their particular everyday practices (e.g. a man revving a motorcycle on the balcony, a boy spending his time by spitting or throwing eggs from a window onto a target marked on the pavement). It reminds us that those people actually living in HEs were not just “puppets”, but actors with their own agency. Indeed (and I have my own experience in this regard), the people living in HEs refused to be doomed by their fate and the external forces creating it. We were not rabbits in hutches! HEs were and still are places of resistance and specific identities. As indicated by some previous studies (and other ways of representation), though HEs can generally be seen as undesirable places or places with a “bad image”, in fact this point of view is held rather by those not living there than by their own inhabitants who, on the contrary, regularly show high levels of life satisfaction, local-patriotism, pride and strong place identity (see e.g. Steinführerová 2003; Andráško 2004, 2006a, 2008b; Węcławowicz et al. 2005; Rzyski & Mędrzycka 2010; Janiszewska, Klima & Rochmińska 2011; Andráško et al. 2013; Temelová & Slezáková 2014).

What should not be forgotten and overlooked is that thousands of people have grown up in HEs, gradually creating strong ties with local environment and thus their own identity. This is clearly echoed when listening to Robo Grigorov’s and Boris Filan’s song Najrýchlejší z rýchlych (The fastest from the fast, 1986): “In the middle of the housing estate, you will never gain anything unless you are fast, the fastest of the fast!” A childhood lived between the high-rise blocks resonated and has been represented in many movies and series (like Jedno malé sídlisko/One small housing estate, from 1978) intended to be about and for children – they were portraying (yet at the same time justifying) growing up in the HEs as something usual (and indeed, for many of us this really was the case) while simultaneously representing the current demographic situation. In former Czechoslovakia the construction of the panel HEs was interrelated with government measures supporting natality, giving rise to a generation of so-called Husák children (named after the former Czechoslovak president Gustáv Husák). For this generation of people (today approximately of an age around 40) the environment of HEs really became something “normal”, yet having its own special meanings – it was the environment of their games, experiences, and dreams, and in some way it stayed part of their life histories and narratives even though many of them may have later changed their place of residence.

My previous remarks draw attention to something that can generally be taken-for-granted but which, at the same time, is being increasingly recognised by academics as something playing a crucial role in the life of society – everyday life and its individual and social meanings and practices. Everyday life as something that is always changing and in movement, something that escapes even representation – the (at first sight) mundane, banal activities, situations, events and routines of “just another” day in the life of the HE inhabitants (like waiting for a bus, shopping in a grocery store, looking for a place to park the car) and the myriad of other actions associated with them – activities and processes so evident that they are, in the end, not evident at all. In sum, everyday practices encapsulate the ways we adapt, copy with, interact and express ourselves (i.e. create our identities) within a given environment.

In social sciences the focus on everydayness resulted and/or has been part of the crisis of representation (see Horton & Kraftl 2014) and the shift towards more practical aspects of urban life, towards the “lived” space. Stretching towards newer theories of (or dealing with) materiality, embodiment and performativity (like “non-representational theory”), the approaches herald practice and action. As P. Hubbard (2006: 121) notes, urban spaces need to be considered as “embodied and lived, not just imagined and represented”.

HEs: materiality, non-human actors, and socio-technical configuration

“If we said that we can build a house from this clay bullet, few would believe it – yet it is true… the burned matter is disproportionately lighter, and more importantly, it does not absorb water – the researchers used this: the burnt bullets were agglutinated with cement to form a new building material – ceramsite. In Bratislava, in Priemstav, they produce panels out of it… in the course of 7 weeks, they will construct this building with 36 apartments” (Archiv ČT24 2017).

The extract I started this part of the paper with comes from a filmed report from 1955. The report provides information about technological advances in the production of materials suitable for the fast and reliable construction of multi-storey houses in Czechoslovakia and draws attention to something that has a lot to do with HEs, something which is a common part of the everyday environment experienced by the inhabitants, but is also often overlooked once again – the technology and materiality of HEs.

I dare to say here that the fate, the “birth”, but also the “end” of HEs is directly associated with technologies and materials. I remember myself during my university studies preparing a seminar thesis about local government housing politics in Považská Bystrica, one of the “typical” Slovak (post-)socialist towns. Talking with a construction engineer associated with one of the first renewal projects targeted at panel houses, he explained to me that the panels themselves can hold together for many more years, but the steel joints holding the panels together are the weak point of the houses since they can be subject to corrosion. I will not contemplate here whether such an opinion is right or wrong – through the years that followed I noted many other views of this kind. But what is important here is that the technological/material state of HE blocks became a focus of interest when talking about the future of HEs, especially regarding the measures for the maintenance and improvement of housing quality in most HEs, the renewal/reconstruction/revitalization/ regeneration of the material parts of houses like facades, walls (e.g. insulation), roofs, and balconies as well as of their surroundings and public spaces (see e.g. Ciesiółka 2010; Kozłowski 2010; Warchalska-Troll 2012, 2013; Herfert, Neugebauer & Smigiel 2013; Szabó 2013; Šuška & Stasíková 2013; Šimáček et al. 2015).

Technologies and materiality are intertwined with life in HEs in many more ways than those I have just indicated. For instance, anybody who has ever lived in a panel block probably knows how “reliable” panels are in transmitting sound and letting you know that the neighbours from the flat above you are getting up for work or that that teenager from the 3rd floor just came home from school and decided to listen to his favourite song pretty loudly on the speakers. Those people who lived in panel blocks, whether they liked it or not, had to accustom themselves to the inevitable assemblage of sounds, including the “inner sound” of the house, which is often associated with specific rhythms and norms of behaviour.

Still, there are a lot of other everyday associations and relationships between people and the “world of things”, or rather the “world of non-human actors”: notebooks, routers, printers, mobile phones, elevators, pipelines, ducts, the terrain in which the HEs are built, trees, pets, cars, buses, trams, alarm clocks… (see Photo 2).

Photo 2
Photo 2

Material things everywhere – trees, street lamp, house (and its parts), pavements, sewer, cars, artistic work (in the middle behind the cars), playground (on the right-hand side behind the cars) etc. (housing estate Lesná, Brno, Czech Republic)

Source: I. Andráško

Citation: Urban Development Issues 55, 3; 10.2478/udi-2018-0001

The effects of non-human actors can be surprisingly significant – for instance, (the presence of) greenery or trees can dramatically alter the way the city inhabitants subjectively perceive and evaluate the quality of their surroundings and of the air they breathe (Andráško 2013; see also Szymańska, Lewandowska & Rogatka 2015). We only start to register most of the non-human components in our lives when something goes wrong with them – when the elevator does not work, when the water does not flow from the tap, when we quarrel with our neighbour because of her dogs’ barking or its excrement left on the sidewalk. Another example is the issue of the everyday struggle to find a free parking place within the grounds of HEs, which is a pressing problem (see Zborowski, Dej & Gorczyca 2009; Andráško et al. 2013) which has an impact upon the lives, thinking, social relations and embodied practices of urban dwellers as well as associated political decisions. Obviously, then, non-human objects (and their networks) are not just passive parts of our lives – on the contrary, they have their own agency and their own strong social and power relations underpinning them. For instance, an episode of polluted drinking water in the city of Brno during the summer of 2016 (Prokopová 2016) showed that people are much more vulnerable within such networks and their operation as it might seem at first sight. It appears that those who control such networks can gain a controlling power over those who need them (see e.g. Klemešová 2012; Klemešová, Trávníček & Trojan 2014).

The previous text draws our attention to the nature of relations between humans and the non-human parts of their life. While some points of view put to the fore the influence of materiality on humans and thus some version(s) of determinism, a range of more current (Western) approaches emphasise instead interwovenness, mutuality, interdependence and/or feedback (see Andráško 2013) producing constantly changing and unfolding complex spatial networks of things and people (including bodies and representations). Things and networks are interrelated and enmeshed in space and time with the agency of humans, producing (and being produced by) a multiplicity of meanings and practices. This way, at one time, the “under construction” environment of one Slovak HE, i.e. the environment of construction sites, of an endless sea of pits, heaps, cables and bulldozers, could have been changed by the children to their own landscape of joy and games. Playing “the war” the pits became trenches witnessing the battles between the “good” Russians and partisans and those “bad” Germans and during the winter, the heaps of clay and bulldozer tracks were changed to the tracks of sled races and igloos, and snow bunkers appeared all over the HE.

The notion of the complex relations of human and non-human actors (and their importance) can be extended to the recently often debated blurring or disruption of “traditional” dichotomies or distinctions, not only between the human and the non-human, but also between the biological and the technical and between nature and culture (see Haraway 1991). This way the space, places, and people who occupy them become intimately enmeshed and connected with and through technologies (like the projects of “intelligent households”), producing a kind of everyday reality which, through its relational nature, transcends all the categories and which can then be called “socio-technical” or “hybrid” (see e.g. Whatmore 2003; Couper 2015).

Western concepts in an Eastern context: discussing their usefulness and ways of utilisation

In the previous section of the paper, I tried to briefly introduce some Western concepts and approaches that I find useful to apply in the contexts of Eastern HEs. At this point, we can ask: why are these concepts important and useful? Though I think some possible answers to the question might seem obvious and a natural result of the above-mentioned information, in the following section my intention is to add and concisely discuss other supporting arguments and ideas as well as some basic methodical tools that seem to be useful for particular investigations of recent issues and developments in post-socialist HEs.

Starting with representations, their importance, as already stated, lies in the fact that they are not neutral and they act back. In other words, representations usually contain some ideological beliefs and they have the power to (re)produce particular ideas about places and people/society. In this way the representations are (paradoxically) unrepresentative (or only partially representative), selective and biased; they classify people along various lines of difference and they are able to stereotype some social groups and places, which means they can serve as sources, perpetuations and justifications of exclusion and inequality through “story-telling” (either explicitly or implicitly expressed). At the same time, they can reinforce the interests, power, and position of some (usually dominant) social groups.

Regarding the future of HEs and issues of urban renewal, planning documents seem to be of special importance here – representations that are literally meant to be an “expert” and “objective” basis for constituting reality, people, and places. As indicated by many researchers (e.g. Biolek et al. 2013), the content of planning documents can often be rather vague and populist in relation to its meaning, thus creating uncertainty and space for misinterpretation. But what is even more important than the way the given topic is being represented is the influence of the representation. In this regard, so-called discourse analysis, “a way of analysing texts that thinks about content in relation to its effects” (Hubbard 2006: 74), has proved to be beneficial. Through this procedure, the ideas, stories, knowledge base, concepts etc. produced by different people, social groups or institutions and associated with diverse fields of thinking and social life are being studied in their mutual relations and combinations with a focus on their (either actual or potential) influence on the world we live in (see e.g. Andráško 2016 on the discourse of the quality of life concept).

Regarding HEs, we have to keep in mind that before they were built and inhabited, they were planned. Both in the West and the East, from the beginning the plans for the construction of HEs were full of certain political beliefs, decisions, and agendas. It would be naïve to think that planning documents nowadays are value-free. Plans are made by people affected (directly or indirectly) by other people (those who have the power to affect the others) and so hold and promote the values, aspirations and viewpoints of some empowered individuals or social groups while at the same time they can ignore or suppress the values and needs of those who are somehow excluded from the decision making processes. The fundamental problem here is the one that planning documents bring about the norms and regulations of the given space and the lives of the people living in it and through these norms and regulations some problems of places like HEs can be highlighted and others become rendered as unimportant or “invisible”. Overall the effect is that space is being planned and regulated unfairly – with respect to some and with disrespect to some others. As showed by feminist and post-structuralist geographers, the “rational” thinking of space as it “should be” used (a typical feature of planning documents) is far from being as rational as it might seem to be at first sight, nor does it conceive space in the same way that people who use it on an everyday basis do (see e.g. Andráško 2016). An often mentioned example of feminist research concerns how planners (mostly men) design public spaces in such a way that these become difficult to navigate through by people (mostly women) with children or a pushchair or they even produce a sense of fear and danger (see e.g. Stasíková 2011, 2013). Albeit the man–woman friction can be considered as highly indicative in this regard, it is necessary to note that such axes of difference (as potential sources of friction) are manifold – another example can be demonstrated of the discrepancies between planners’ imaginations and the practical ways that disabled people have to deal with them during their struggle to move through urban spaces (see Jaňura & Toušek 2012; Osman 2010, 2012). The problems of elderly people, children and many other marginal and (through the discourse) marginalised or disadvantaged people (and their bodies) could be exemplified in the same way (see e.g. Niezabitowski 2010; Sýkora & Matoušek 2010; Temelová, Dvořáková & Slezáková 2010; Mitríková & Madziková 2013; Mitríková, Madziková & Liptáková 2013; Temelová & Slezáková 2014; Blazek 2016).

Such ideas and knowledge alert us to how important the very presence of people and their bodies is in the urban environment and, on the other hand, how this presence and its diversity is being constantly “forgotten” and overlooked (either inadvertently or purposefully) by the production of spaces that can be inherently exclusionary and evoke feelings of rejection, misconduct, shame, fear or alienation. It becomes much more important to consider (and study) such issues, taking into account that HEs represent urban areas with remarkable dynamics and the associated changes are described, analysed and regulated by many planning documents and policy decisions resulting in various renewal and regeneration programmes and projects.

A critical examination of plans and policy documents (as well as other kinds of representation) can reveal some substantial, power-related forces affecting the life of people. However, life itself, the everyday life of “ordinary” people and their bodies and emotions, also creates its own “forces”. People are not passive recipients but can take an active role by undermining the decisions and activities (of politicians, planners, developers and so on) by their own actions and resistance (see e.g. Šuška 2012, 2014). Such a point of view, admittedly, requires specific approaches that allow us to “come down” from such representations as maps or plans and to become, and be a part of, the whole mixture and mingling of human beings and their surroundings, and of that which goes on in the streets and urban spaces hour after hour, day after day.

The topic of everyday life brought to the fore questions of (bodily) practices, performance(s) and human emotions and affects (and the needs related to them) as, for instance, mediators of urban life and renewal or resistance to official representations: the bodies of real people dwelling in the streets can contrast sharply with discursively constructed, schematised and ordered bodies in plans or policy documents (see Photo 3).

Photo 3
Photo 3

The “workout zone” – rationalised and planned space with prescribed meaning and ordered ways of consumption (note the schematised bodies on the boards)– is a place of (potential) subversion and resistance. On a sunny weekend day I allowed myself to sit and eat my brunch on one of the benches while the man in the background was playing very nicely on an accordion (Bohunice housing estate, Brno, Czech Republic)

Source: I. Andráško

Citation: Urban Development Issues 55, 3; 10.2478/udi-2018-0001

The general idea then is that though urban spaces can be planned and are intended to be used in some particular ways, individuals and social groups can (and indeed do) create and perform their own ways of “consuming” space. An example that could serve here is provided by the practices of street-based groups or happenings of people devoted to hip-hop, rap or other musical styles, skateboarders, artists (see Biolek, Malý & Zrůstová 2013), youth activities organisers and participants, but also homeless people (Rochovská, Miláčková & Námešný 2013) and many others who definitely use the public spaces in more or less different ways than those intended by the planners. Naturally, by crossing the pathways or interests of other social groups, this kind of activity can lead to conflicts in socio-spatial relations, to misunderstandings, oppression or even persecution. Nevertheless, socio-spatial relations do not necessarily have to take the form of “deep” or even “eternal” conflict – on the contrary, everyday life subsumes a never-ending set of rather “small” encounters and negotiations with other people we meet in the streets, shopping-malls or playgrounds. P. Hubbard (2006: 114) calls this “street ballet”, meaning “the outcome of learnt modes of interaction designed to minimise contact with strangers and to deal with the complexity of the streets”.

The procedures and methods used in an endeavour to “catch up” with everyday life are various – as are the possible sources of information. I will at least mention here in-depth interviews, oral or written testimonies, and ethnographic research. Long-term (either participant or nonparticipant) observation/field surveys of the area of HEs seem in a way to be especially beneficial in exploring and understanding local problems and challenges, the nature of social (power) relations, the ways that the spaces (e.g. public spaces) of HEs are being constantly reproduced through processes of production and consumption (see Šuška 2012, 2014). Rather than focusing on “deep” structural influences or explanatory analyses “from above”, procedures like those I mentioned earlier have the capacity to bring the researcher “down to the people” and so to comprehend (at least part of) the complexity of life actually lived in the given place. Of special interest in this regard can be (auto)biographies. As previously noted, in post-socialist countries the environment of HEs became familiar to whole generations of people just through the process of growing up in it (see Barvíková 2010). If I look around me (and at myself), I can see many researchers whose life is inseparably connected with HEs. That means there is a great potential for personalised testimonies on the myriads of experiences related to life in HEs which can produce a lot of useful information.

The political and practical underpinnings of using such procedures might not be apparent at first sight, but can easily be recognised in relation to what can, in a simplified manner, be expressed through the confrontation of the totalising and usually “detached” (“top-down”) view of politics or (some) academics and urban planners with the everyday struggles of “common” people and the diversity and complexity of society and place-based urban issues (e.g. the roar and smell coming from people standing and smoking in front of the entrance of a pub and the anger and possible despair of those who live in apartments above the pub – including all the social actions that can lead to and result from such a situation). From this point of view, urban life is rather (re) constructed (and could be understood) through what is actually happening in public and private spaces rather than by the documents and schemes prepared on the planner’s desk. Ignoring this kind of experience and knowledge then leads to overlooking and making invisible important, from some points of view even decisive, facets of urban life and so to the limitation of opportunities to solve its pressing problems and to “develop” urban areas in ways corresponding with the demands of various agents, not only those who are empowered.

Notions of complexity of everyday life bring us not only to the question how such complexity can be studied but also how it can be interpreted. This question comes even more to the fore when we take into account material things and networks, or the “non-human” actors of everyday life. Though the ways of investigating complex networks of diverse elements and their relations can rely on various theories (like systems theory – see e.g. Foote & Greer-Wootten 1968; Greer-Wootten 1972), there are some Western approaches that can be perceived as currently to be especially influential. The so-called Actor-Network Theory or in short ANT (see Latour 2005, Hubbard 2006) focuses on, briefly expressed, manifold relations/interactions/associations of different, either human or non-human agents. According to the theory (interpreted by me in this paper in very simplified manner!), the agency is relational and lumped together with the structure. Networks of relations are not strictly spatially limited, so the scales become blurred. The viewpoint here is rather analytical – it prefers “tracing” the relationships rather than investigating their actual existence (which might lead to undesirable generalisations), it alters the way we can describe and interpret power relations, it challenges the way we “traditionally” interpret the word “social” and leads to understanding the way the particular (field of) knowledge or outcomes are being produced. By using the ANT approach, we should be able not only to understand the complexity of the socio-technical configuration of places, but we can also challenge the ingrained opinions, classifications, simplifications, definitions or theories. For instance, and regarding HEs, the very term “(large) housing estate” and its definition, or rather the HEs themselves as objects of enquiry, can be questioned, deconstructed, unsettled and viewed in a completely “new” manner.

Suggesting that material things can be taken as having their own agency, and taking into account notions of fluid, multiple relationships, the complexity of a world finding itself in the process of constant change, of “ever becoming”, of (the sources and results of) the interaction of various elements, can challenge and alter the traditional view of HEs as some predefined entity, and the ways the HEs are perceived, investigated, ruled and organised.

Conclusions

Housing estates have come a (relatively) long way – especially those built in socialist countries. Constructed during (different periods of) the era of authoritarian regimes, getting through the times of revolutionary change or “transformation” and currently finding themselves in a position usually labeled as “post-socialist” (which seems to me still more questionable nowadays), HEs represent a fascinating subject of enquiry. The context or rather the individual development and current position and situation, the way the specific local circumstances mingle with common phenomena and processes in the territory of every HE, seems to constitute a distinctive topic of its own. Globalisation, privatisation and private ownership, “free” trade and competition, entrepreneurship, organised crime, corruption, developers and their activities, destruction of diverse parts of the built environment (including artworks and buildings of historical value), land-use changes, (growing) social polarisation and segregation, demographic changes (like ageing of the population), growing (residential) mobility, sacralisation, political changes (including decentralisation of decision making, local and regional governments), implementation of various programmes and funds, consumerism, “westernisation” of public spaces, visual smog – these are only some examples of interrelated phenomena and processes occurring in the environment of (Eastern) HEs yet at the same time creating and forming it (see Buček 2000, 2003; Egedy 2000; Ira 2001; Kallabová 2002; Andráško 2004; Murie et al. 2005; Steinfůhrer & Haase 2007; Berényi & Szabó 2009; Bernt 2009; Jeřábek 2009; Matlovič & Nestorová-Dická 2009; Jażdżewska 2010; Jordan 2010; Rodzoš & Flaga 2010; Neugebauer, Wiest & Krupickaite 2011; Cudny 2012; Danielová 2012; Šuška 2012; Warchalska-Troll 2012; Andráško et al. 2013; Biolek 2013; Kabisch & Grossman 2013; Bonenberg 2015; Szafrańska 2015; Gorczyca 2016; Kristiánová 2016). As for myself, I primarily see them to be aspects of a one and the same, and simultaneously always in one way or another different and individual, “post-socialist situation” that the particular HEs and their inhabitants find themselves in. The resulting mixture is complicated and it is tough to avoid simplifications. However, that is what the work of a scientist should be here for – a single study can probably not comprehend everything, but putting the bits and pieces together can help us in heading towards a fuller image and deeper understanding.

The aim of this paper was to provide a brief introduction to, and discussion of, some selected Western concepts and approaches that I find useful when applied in the context(s) of the Eastern (post-socialist) HEs. Though I am aware that such a task cannot be fully achieved within one article, hopefully I have been able to bring an informative and, most of all, an inspirational account that at least partly meets the given aim.

Three concluding remarks which I consider important and which should be mentioned at the very end of the paper are:

  • My intentions in preparing this paper were not propagandistic, but rather informational. In other words, I do not want to say, that the concepts and approaches outlined in the paper are in any way superior or the only right ones to be applied. During my previous career, I have experienced and personally conducted studies rooted in different philosophical and methodological starting points and used many methods of a quantitative, qualitative as well as of a mixed nature. This gave me a point of view based on the notion of complementarity – any well-prepared (and well-interpreted) account dealing with the given topic (either regarding HEs or anything else) has its value, every account adds something that can be found as useful and complementary in disseminating knowledge.
  • My intention was not to say that the previously described concepts and approaches were not used by the study of eastern HEs until today. The works of M. Niezabitowski (2010), J. Barvíková (2010), L. Stasíková (2011, 2013), S. Ferenčuhová & M. Jayne (2013), J. Biolek & K. Tuľaková (2015), M. Blazek (2016) and many others prove the opposite and it is not by chance that I have cited most of them throughout the article. From my subjective point of view and regarding the works I personally know well, I would like to mention here the study of M. Blazek (2016) separately. Dealing with the everyday practices of children living in (one part of) Petržalka, a well-known large HE in Slovakia, the book not only covers the topics sketched by me in this paper (and many others) but also presents their practical application in the particular research.
  • It seems that planning and development will always carry some degree of influence and power and even the best-intended efforts to comply the diversity of needs and values have their limits and can work the other way around or fail (see Andráško 2016). Still I believe that critical thinking about and assessment of urban issues (and ways of enquiry about them and their solution) as well as the consideration of life and its quality as being complex, relational and (in many ways) relative, can bring us another step forward in knowing and solving current problems and upcoming challenges.

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  • Jaňura J. & Toušek V. (2012) Bariéry osob s pohybovým omezením ve městě Brně: sociálněgeografická studie [in:] I. Andráško P. Dvořák V. Ira eds. Časoprostorové změny regionálních struktur ČR a SRÚstav geoniky Akademie věd ČR Brno 62-69 [in Czech with English abstract and summary].

  • Jażdżewska I. (2010) Sakralizacja przestrzeni osiedli blokowych. Przykład Łodzi i Sankt Petersburga [in:] I. Jażdżewska ed. Osiedla blokowe w strukturze przestrzennej miast: XXIII Konwersatorium Wiedzy o Mieście Wydawnictwo UŁ Łódž 151-169 [in Polish].

  • Jeřábek M. (2009) Changes in the microregional centre of Teplice in the North-West of Bohemia Quaestiones Geographicae 28B(2) 57-70.

  • Johnston R. J. & Sidaway J. D. (2004) Geography & Geographers: Anglo-American Human Geography since 1945 (Sixth Edition) Hodder Arnold London.

  • Jordan P. (2010) Decentralisation processes in Central and Southeast European transformation countries: A comparative survey Acta Universitatis Palackianae Olomucensis – Geographica 41(1) 15-34.

  • Kabisch S. & Grossmann K. (2013) Challenges for Large Housing Estates in Light of Population Decline and Ageing: Results of a Long-term Survey in East Germany Habitat International 39 232–239.

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  • Kährik A. & Tammaru T. (2010) Soviet prefabricated panel housing estates: areas of continued social mix or decline? The case of Tallinn Housing Studies 25(2) 201-219.

    • Crossref
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  • Kallabová E. (2002) Trends in the issue of pre-fabricated housing estates with emphasis on their recovery (with examples from the Czech Republic) Moravian Geographical Reports 10(1) 26–31.

  • Kallabová E. (2004) Sociálněgeografické souvislosti panelových sídlišť a problémy jejich vývoje v České republice Dissertation thesis Masarykova univerzita Brno [in Czech with English summary].

  • van Kempen R. Dekker K. Hall S. & Tosics I. (2005) Restructuring Large-scale Housing Estates in European Cities The Policy Press Bristol.

  • Klemešová K. (2012) Institucionální a společenská reflexe povodňové problematiky v kontextu potřeby dalšího vzdělávání [in:] P. Zdráhalová & J. Trojan eds. Cílené další profesní vzdělávání: konkrétní cíl - konkrétní výsledky Tribun EU Brno 83-91 [in Czech].

  • Klemešová K. Trávníček J. & Trojan J. (2014) Participace akcelerátorem zapojení veřejnosti v procesech plánování environmentálních rizik na příkladu povodní [in:] J. Strohmandl ed. Zkvalitnění systému výzkumu a vzdělávání v oblasti ochrany obyvatelstva - Sborník příspěvků Univerzita Tomáše Bati ve Zlíně Fakulta logistiky a krizového řizení Zlín 133-140 [in Czech with English abstract].

  • Klusáček P. & Vaishar A. (2008) Současné urbanizační pochody a obytné prostředí jako součást kvality života ve vnitřních částech evropských velkoměst [in:] V. Ira ed. Ľudia geografické prostredie a kvalita života Geographia Slovaca 25 Geografický ústav SAV Bratislava 145-157 [in Czech with English abstract].

  • Klusáček P. Martinát S. Matznetter W. & Wisabauer A. (2009) Urban development in selected Czech and Austrian city regions Acta Universitatis Palackianae Olomucensis - Geographica 40(2) 27-57.

  • Knorr-Siedow T. & Droste C. (2005) Large housing estates in Berlin Germany: Opinions of residents on recent developments RESTATE report 4b Utrecht University Faculty of Geosciences Utrecht.

  • Kovács Z. & Herfert G. (2012) Development pathways of large housing estates in postsocialist cities: an international comparison Housing Studies 27(3) 324-342.

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  • Kozłowski S. (2010) Przeszkody i bariery na drodze humanizacji osiedli [in:] I. Jażdżewska ed. Osiedla blokowe w strukturze przestrzennej miast: XXIII Konwersatorium Wiedzy o Mieście Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego Łódź 73-87 [in Polish].

  • Krejčí T. Klusáček P. Konečný O. & Ruda A. (2010) Regionální rozvoj – teorie aplikace regionalizace Mendelova univerzita v Brně Brno [in Czech].

  • Kristiánová K. (2016) Post-Socialist Transformations of Green Open Spaces in Large Scale Socialist Housing Estates in Slovakia Procedia Engineering 161 1863 – 1867.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Križan F. Tolmáči L. & Lauko V. (2008) Identifikácia “potravinových púští” na území mesta Bratislava aplikáciou mier dostupnosti Ekonomický časopis 56(10) 959-972 [in Slovak with English abstract].

  • Kunc J. Maryáš J. Tonev P. Frantál B. Siwek T. Halás M. Klapka P. Szczyrba Z. & Zuskáčková V. (2013) Časoprostorové modely nákupního chování české populace Masarykova univerzita Brno [in Czech with English summary].

  • Latour B. (2005) Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory Oxford University Press Oxford.

  • Lukáčová A. & Sovičová I. (2013) Urbanizácia a regionálny rozvoj v kontexte globálnych zmien [in:] H. Svobodová ed. Nové výzvy pro geografii: Výroční konference České geografické společnosti Masarykova univerzita Brno 208-218 [in Slovak with English abstract]

  • Maier K. (2003) Sídliště: problém a multikriteriální analýza jako součást přípravy k jeho řešení Sociologický časopis 39(5) 653-666 [in Czech with English abstract].

  • Maier K. (2005) Czech housing estates: Recent changes and new challenges Geographia Polonica 78(1) 39-51.

  • Marcińczak S. & Sagan I. (2011) The Socio-spatial Restructuring of Łódź Poland Urban Studies 48(9): 1789–1809.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Matlovič R. & Nestorová-Dická J. (2009) The city of Košice in the context of post-socialist transformation Quaestiones Geographicae 28B(2) 45–55.

  • Matlovič R. & Sedláková A. (2007) Transformation processes of the urban space in postcommunist cities [in:] M. Malikowski S. Solecki eds. Przemiany przestrzenne w dużych miastach Polski i Europy Środkowo-Wschodniej Nomos Kraków 32-46.

  • Matlovič R. (1998) Geografia priestorovej štruktúry mesta Prešov Geografické práce 8(1) Prešovská univerzita Prešov [in Slovak with English summary].

  • Matlovič R. Ira V. Korec P. & Ondoš S. (2009) Urban structures and their transformation (the contribution of Slovak geography) [in:] V. Ira J. Lacika eds. Slovak geography at the beginning of the 21st century Geographia Slovaca 26 71-99.

  • Mitríková J. & Madziková A. (2013) Priestorová diferenciácia kvality života seniorov v urbánnom a rurálnom prostredí – základný náčrt spracovania problematiky Mladá veda (Medzinárodný vedecký časopis Mladá veda) 1(1) 21-31 [in Slovak with English abstract].

  • Mitríková J. Madziková A. & Liptáková M. (2013) Vybrané aspekty kvality života seniorov – teoretický vstup do problematiky Folia geographica 55(21) 84-106 [in Slovak with English abstract and summary].

  • Mládek J. Kovalovská V. & Chovancová J. (1998) Petržalka - demografické najmä migračné špecifiká mladej urbánnej štruktúry Geografický časopis 50 109-136 [in Slovak with English abstract and summary].

  • Murie A. Knorr-Siedow T. & van Kempen R. (2003) Large Housing Estates in Europe: General Developments and Theoretical Backgrounds RESTATE report 1 Utrecht University Faculty of Geosciences Utrecht.

  • Murie A. Tosics I. Aalbers M. Sendi R. & Černič Mali B. (2005) Privatisation and after [in:] R. van Kempen K. Dekker S. Hall I. Tosics eds. Restructuring Large-scale Housing Estates in European Cities The Policy Press Bristol 85–126.

  • Musterd S. & van Kempen R. (2007) Trapped or on the springboard? Housing careers in large housing estates in European cities Journal of Urban Affair 29(3) 311-329.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Nestorová-Dická J. & Lovacká S. (2009) Vývojové etapy európskych miest (procesy utvárajúce a formujúce európske mestá) Geographia Cassoviensis 3(2) 127-132 [in Slovak with English abstract].

  • Nestorová-Dická J. (2013) Sociálno-demografické dimenzie postsocialistického mesta Košice Univerzita Pavla Jozefa Šafárika v Košiciach Košice.

  • Nestorová-Dická J. (2014) Sociálno-demografické dimenzie postsocialistického mesta Geografický časopis 66(1) 49-66 [in Slovak with English abstract and summary].

  • Neugebauer C. S. Wiest K. & Krupickaite D. (2011) The perspectives of central and eastern European large scale housing estates in between local housing markets: dweller’s initiatives and public policy Raumforschung und Raumordnung 69 29-43.

  • Niezabitowski M. (2010) Ludzie starsi w starzejącym się blokowisku. Przypadek osiedla Superjednostka w Katowicach [in:] I. Jażdżewska ed. Osiedla blokowe w strukturze przestrzennej miast: XXIII Konwersatorium Wiedzy o Mieście Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego Łódź 285-299 [in Polish].

  • Ondoš S. Korec P. (2006) Súčasné dimenzie sociálno-demografickej priestorovej štruktúry Bratislavy Sociológia 38 49-82 [in Slovak with English abstract].

  • Osman R. (2010) Specifika časoprostorového chování imobilních osob [in:] Geografie pro život ve 21. století: Sborník příspěvků z XXII. sjezdu České geografické společnosti pořádaného Ostravskou univerzitou v Ostravě 31. srpna - 3. září 2010 Ostravská univerzita v Ostravě Ostrava 478-482 [in Czech with English abstract].

  • Osman R. (2012) Prostorová orientace a specifika prostorových rozhodnutí osob s pohybovým omezením [in:] J. Temelová L. Pospíšilová M. Ouředníček eds. Nové sociálně prostorové nerovnosti lokální rozvoj a kvalita života Vydavatelství a nakladatelství Aleš Čenék Plzeň 77-98 [in Czech with English abstract].

  • Posová D. & Sýkora L. (2011) Urbanizace a suburbanizace v měst-ských regionech Prahy a Vídně: strukturální rozdíly v podmínkách odlišných politickoekonomických režimů Geografie 116(3) 276-299 [in Czech with English abstract and summary].

  • Power A. (1997) Estates on the edge: The social consequences of mass housing in Northern Europe Macmillan London.

  • Prokopová M. 16.09.2016 Balená voda mizí z pultů. Brnaňé se bojí o své zdraví IDNES.CZ. Available from: http://brno.idnes.cz/spatna-voda-v-brne-kontaminace-bakterie-d9h-/brno-zpravy.aspx-?c=A160916_2273646_brno-zpravy_vh [accessed: 29.07.2017].

  • Rochovská A. Miláčková M. & Námešný L. (2013) Bratislava – mesto narastajúcich sociálnych nerovností [in:] J. Buček P. Korec eds. Moderná humánna geografia mesta Bratislava: priestorové štruktúry siete a procesy Univerzita Komenského Prírodovedecká fakulta Katedra humánnej geografie a demografie Bratislava 89-118 [in Slovak].

  • Rodzoś J. & Flaga M. (2010) Nowa sytuacja spoleczna starych osiedli mieszkaniowych na przykładzie osiedla im A. Mickiewicza w Lublinie [in:] I. Jażdżewska ed. Osiedla blokowe w strukturze przestrzennej miast: XXIII Konwersatorium Wiedzy o Mieście Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego Łódź 101-118 [in Polish].

  • Rzyski S. & Mędrzycka K. (2010) Osiedla blokowe versus inne formy zabudowy mieszkaniowej w Gdańsku—percepcja i waloryzacja warunków zamieszkania [in:] I. Jażdżewska ed. Osiedla blokowe w strukturze przestrzennej miast: XXIII Konwersatorium Wiedzy o Mieście Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego Łódź 251-259 [in Polish].

  • Sargsyan T. (2013) Residential environmental conditions on housing estates in Yerevan Hungarian Geographical Bulletin 62(1) 121-130.

  • Krejčí T. Klusáček P. Konečný O. & Ruda A. (2010) Regionální rozvoj – teorie aplikace regionalizace Mendelova univerzita v Brné Brno [in Czech].

  • Kristiánová K. (2016) Post-Socialist Transformations of Green Open Spaces in Large Scale Socialist Housing Estates in Slovakia Procedia Engineering 161 1863 – 1867.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Križan F. Tolmáči L. & Lauko V. (2008) Identifikácia “potravinových půstí” na ůzemí mesta Bratislava aplikáciou mier dostupnosti Ekonomický ýasopis 56(10) 959-972 [in Slovak with English abstract].

  • Kunc J. Maryáš J. Tonev P. Frantál B. Siwek T. Halás M. Klapka P. Szczyrba Z. & Zuskáčková V. (2013) Časoprostorové modely nákupního čhování ceské populace Masarykova univerzita Brno [in Czech with English summary].

  • Latour B. (2005) Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory Oxford University Press Oxford.

  • Lukáčová A. & Sovičová I. (2013) Urbanizácia a regionálny rozvoj v kontexte globálnych zmien [in:] H. Svobodová ed. Nové výzvy pro geografii: Výroční konference České geografické společnosti Masarykova univerzita Brno 208-218 [in Slovak with English abstract]

  • Maier K. (2003) Sídliště: problém a multikriteriální analýza jako součást přípravy k jeho řešení Sociologický časopis 39(5) 653-666 [in Czech with English abstract].

  • Maier K. (2005) Czech housing estates: Recent changes and new challenges Geographia Polonica 78(1) 39-51.

  • Marcińczak S. & Sagan I. (2011) The Socio-spatial Restructuring of Łódź Poland Urban Studies 48(9): 1789–1809.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Matlovič R. & Nestorová-Dická J. (2009) The city of Košice in the context of post-socialist transformation Quaestiones Geographicae 28B(2) 45–55.

  • Matlovič R. & Sedláková A. (2007) Transformation processes of the urban space in postcommunist cities [in:] M. Malikowski S. Solecki eds. Przemiany przestrzenne w dużych miastach Polski i Europy Środkowo-Wschodniej Nomos Kraków 32-46.

  • Matlovič R. (1998) Geografia priestorovej štruktúry mesta Prešov Geografické práce 8(1) Prešovská univerzita Prešov [in Slovak with English summary].

  • Matlovič R. Ira V. Korec P. & Ondoš S. (2009) Urban structures and their transformation (the contribution of Slovak geography) [in:] V. Ira J. Lacika eds. Slovak geography at the beginning of the 21st century Geographia Slovaca 26 71-99.

  • Mitríková J. & Madziková A. (2013) Priestorová diferenciácia kvality života seniorov v urbánnom a rurálnom prostredí – základny náčrt spracovania problematiky Mladá veda (Medzinárodný vedecký časopis Mladá veda) 1(1) 21-31 [in Slovak with English abstract].

  • Mitríková J. Madziková A. & Liptáková M. (2013) Vybrané aspekty kvality života seniorov – teoretický vstup do problematiky Folia geographica 55(21) 84-106 [in Slovak with English abstract and summary].

  • Mládek J. Kovalovská V. & Chovancová J. (1998) Petrzalka - demografické najmá migračné špecifiká mladej urbánnej štruktúry Geografický časopis 50 109-136 [in Slovak with English abstract and summary].

  • Murie A. Knorr-Siedow T. & van Kempen R. (2003) Large Housing Estates in Europe: General Developments and Theoretical Backgrounds RESTATE report 1 Utrecht University Faculty of Geosciences Utrecht.

  • Murie A. Tosics I. Aalbers M. Sendi R. & Černič Mali B. (2005) Privatisation and after [in:] R. van Kempen K. Dekker S. Hall I. Tosics eds. Restructuring Large-scale Housing Estates in European Cities The Policy Press Bristol 85–126.

  • Musterd S. & van Kempen R. (2007) Trapped or on the springboard? Housing careers in large housing estates in European cities Journal of Urban Affair 29(3) 311-329.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Nestorová-Dická J. & Lovacká S. (2009) Vývojové etapy európskych miest (procesy utvárajucé a formujúce európske mestá) Geographia Cassoviensis 3(2) 127-132 [in Slovak with English abstract].

  • Nestorová-Dická J. (2013) Sociálno-demografické dimenzie postsocialistického mesta Košice Univerzita Pavla Jozefa Šafárika v Košiciach Košice.

  • Nestorová-Dická J. (2014) Sociálno-demografické dimenzie postsocialistického mesta Geograficky casopis 66(1) 49-66 [in Slovak with English abstract and summary].

  • Neugebauer C. S. Wiest K. & Krupickaite D. (2011) The perspectives of central and eastern European large scale housing estates in between local housing markets: dweller’s initiatives and public policy Raumforschung und Raumordnung 69 29-43.

  • Niezabitowski M. (2010) Ludzie starsi w starzejącym się blokowisku. Przypadek osiedla Superjednostka w Katowicach [in:] I. Jażdżewska ed. Osiedla blokowe w strukturze przestrzennej miast: XXIII Konwersatorium Wiedzy o Mieście Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego Łódź 285-299 [in Polish].

  • Ondoš S. Korec P. (2006) Súčasné dimenzie sociálno-demografickej priestorovej štrúktury Bratislavy Sociológia 38 49-82 [in Slovak with English abstract].

  • Osman R. (2010) Specifika časoprostorového chování imobilních osob [in:] Geografie pro život ve 21. století: Sborník příspěvků z XXII. sjezdu České geografické společnosti pořádaného Ostravskou univerzitou v Ostravě 31. srpna - 3. září 2010 Ostravská univerzita v Ostravě Ostrava 478-482 [in Czech with English abstract].

  • Osman R. (2012) Prostorová orientace a specifika prostorových rozhodnutí osob s pohybovým omezením [in:] J. Temelová L. Pospíšilová M. Ouředníček eds. Nové sociálně prostorové nerovnosti lokálni rozvoj a kvalita života Vydavatelstvá a nakladatelstvá Aleš Čenék Plzeň 77-98 [in Czech with English abstract].

  • Posová D. & Sýkora L. (2011) Urbanizace a suburbanizace v městských regionech Prahy a Vídně: strukturální rozdíly v podmínkách odlišných politickoekonomických režimů Geografie 116(3) 276-299 [in Czech with English abstract and summary].

  • Power A. (1997) Estates on the edge: The social consequences of mass housing in Northern Europe Macmillan London.

  • Prokopová M. 16.09.2016 Balená voda mizí z pultů. Brnaňé se bojá o své zdraví IDNES.CZ. Available from: http://brno.idnes.cz/spatna-voda-v-brne-kontaminace-bakterie-d9h-/brno-zpravy.aspx-?c=A160916_2273646_brno-zpravy_vh [accessed: 29.07.2017].

  • Rochovská A. Miláčková M. & Námešný L. (2013) Bratislava – mesto narastajúcich sociálnych nerovností [in:] J. Buček P. Korec eds. Moderná humánna geografia mesta Bratislava: priestorové štruktúry siete a procesy Univerzita Komenského Prírodovedecká fakulta Katedra humánnej geografie a demografie Bratislava 89-118 [in Slovak].

  • Rodzoś J. & Flaga M. (2010) Nowa sytuacja spoleczna starych osiedli mieszkaniowych na przykładzie osiedla im A. Mickiewicza w Lublinie [in:] I. Jażdżewska ed. Osiedla blokowe w strukturze przestrzennej miast: XXIII Konwersatorium Wiedzy o Mieście Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego Łódź 101-118 [in Polish].

  • Rzyski S. & Mfdrzycka K. (2010) Osiedla blokowe versus inne formy zabudowy mieszkaniowej w Gdańsku—percepcja i waloryzacja warunków zamieszkania [in:] I. Jażdżewska ed. Osiedla blokowe w strukturze przestrzennej miast: XXIII Konwersatorium Wiedzy o Mieście Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego Łódź 251-259 [in Polish].

  • Sargsyan T. (2013) Residential environmental conditions on housing estates in Yerevan Hungarian Geographical Bulletin 62(1) 121-130.

  • Šimáček P. Szczyrba Z. Andráško I. & Kunc J. (2015) Twenty-five years of humanising post-socialist housing estates: From quantitative needs to qualitative requirements Geographia Polonica 88(4) 649-668.

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  • Siwek T. (2011) Percepce geografického prostoru Edice Geographica sv. 7 Česká geografická společnost Praha [in Czech with English summary].

  • Špaček O. (2012) Česká panelová sídlišté: faktory stability a budoucího vývoje Sociologický časopis 48(5) 965–988 [in Czech with English abstract].

  • Stasíková L. (2011) Zločin a strach žien v urbánnom prostredí [in:] I. Andráško V. Ira E. Kallabová eds. Časovo-priestorové aspekty regionálnych štruktúr ČR a SR Geografický ústav SAV Bratislava 93-97 [in Slovak with English abstract].

  • Stasíková L. (2013) Genius loci vo vzt’ahu k strachu zo zločinnosti na príklade postsocialistického sídliska Geografický časopis 65 83-101 [in Slovak with English abstract and summary].

  • Steinführer A. & Haase A. (2007) Demographic change as a future challenge for cities in East Central Europe Geografiska Annaler B 89(2) 183-196.

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  • Steinführerová A. (2003) Sociálně prostorové struktury mezi setrvalostí a změnou. Historický a současný pohled na Brno Sociologický časopis 39(2) 169-192 [in Czech with English abstract].

  • Sunega P. & Lux M. (2004) Participace nájemníků a sociální aspekty regenerace panelových sídlišt’ jako jedna z podmínek trvale udržitel-ného rozvoje Urbanismus a územní rozvoj 7(3) 5-9 [in Czech].

  • Šuška P. & Stasíková L. (2013) Transformation of the built environment in Petržalka pre-fabricated housing estate Hungarian Geographical Bulletin 62(1) 83-89.

  • Šuška P. (2012) Produkcia vybudovaného prostredia v postsocialistickej Bratislave: podmienky dynamika a územný prejav Geografický časopis 64(2) 155–179 [in Slovak with English abstract and summary].

  • Šuška P. (2014) Aktívne občianstvo a politika premien mestského prostredia v postsocialistickej Bratislave Geographia Slovaca 29 Geografický ústav SAV Bratislava [in Slovak with English summary].

  • Sýkora L. & Matoušek R. (2010) Segregace sociálně slabých a separace sociálně silných [in:] L. Sýkora ed. Rezidenční segregace Univerzita Karlova v Praze Přírodovědecká fakulta Ministerstvo pro místní rozvoj České republiky Praha 80-83 [in Czech].

  • Sýkora L. (1999) Processes of socio-spatial differentiation in post-communist Prague Housing Studies 14 679-701.

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Figures
  • View in gallery

    Nothing can stop us – panel houses built in hilly, hard-to-reach terrain above the River Svitava (Adamov, Czech Republic)

    Source: I. Andráško

  • View in gallery

    Material things everywhere – trees, street lamp, house (and its parts), pavements, sewer, cars, artistic work (in the middle behind the cars), playground (on the right-hand side behind the cars) etc. (housing estate Lesná, Brno, Czech Republic)

    Source: I. Andráško

  • View in gallery

    The “workout zone” – rationalised and planned space with prescribed meaning and ordered ways of consumption (note the schematised bodies on the boards)– is a place of (potential) subversion and resistance. On a sunny weekend day I allowed myself to sit and eat my brunch on one of the benches while the man in the background was playing very nicely on an accordion (Bohunice housing estate, Brno, Czech Republic)

    Source: I. Andráško

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