The relevance of “Western” theoretical concepts for investigations of the margins of post-socialist cities: the case of Prague
OUŘEDNÍČEK, M. (2016): The relevance of “Western” theoretical concepts for investigations of the margins of post-socialist cities: the case of Prague. Eurasian Geography and Economics, 57, č. 4-5, s. 545–564.
The exceptional dynamics of urban change in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries sparked an almost immediate revitalization of urban studies during the 1990s. In academia, this interest implied an urgent need to make use of theoretical concepts that would inform the description and interpretation of observed new social and spatial phenomena and processes. Consequently, developmentalism – the belief in the realignment of former socialist cities to their Western counterparts and in the gradual “correction” of their socialist character – became the dominant paradigm of urban studies throughout the 1990s in most CEE countries. A strong confidence in the explanatory and predictive function of theoretical concepts that functioned well in Western cities was typical of this period. However, more than two decades of post-socialist urban research have led to the recognition of the limited utility of some imported Western concepts. This paper documents these trends using the example of the outer areas of Czech (post-socialist) cities, which, having been shaped by socialist planning practice for decades, convinced many CEE urban scholars of the need to seek alternative theoretical concepts. It is hoped that this may create fertile ground for new ideas, which would be then exported as a part of wider and internationally more relevant urban theory.