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Modeling Post-Socialist Urbanization / Daniel Kiss
This book examines Budapest’s urban development, planning, and governance between 1990 and 2010. In the face of socialist urbanization’s structural legacies, the recent radical decentralization of government and resources and the impacts of a post-socialist war of ideologies, a trend is analyzed which leads to an urbanization mostly characterized by business-dominated development projects not integrated into any grand urban design. The author claims this outcome to be typical of the development of post-socialist cities and presents it in an abstract model establishing links between particular historical background conditions and the phenomena of Budapest’s recent urbanization.
Modeling Post-socialist Urbanization: The Case of Budapest
Daniel Kiss
Birkhäuser, Basel CH


Budapest’s post-socialist urbanization is incomparable in its scale and impact to anything but those transformations around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries and af-ter World War II, in the 1950s. Whereas the first was closely linked to a general trend towards urbanization, driven by the rise of industrial societies over Europe and encouraged by the state, while the second was marked by an ideological blueprint forced on the country by a socialist great power, the recent developments have been generated by market forces and private demand. The production of space in the two decades following 1990 generated rather particular symptoms, such as the near absence of large-scale projects of cultural and symbolic significance initiated and carried out by the public hand or the fact that urban development was mostly characterized by business-dominated development projects not integrated into any grand urban design. However, a quarter of a century after the systemic turnover, a comprehensive study of Budapest’s latest urbanization—establishing nexus between the historical background conditions, the patterns of the recent period’s socio-economic organization, and the resulting production of space—is yet to be conducted.

In response to this shortfall, my major aims in writing this book have been three-fold. First, I wanted to introduce an empirically deep and richly detailed single case study of Budapest’s urban development between 1990 and 2010. My second objective was that of constructing a systematic explanation of the seemingly disordered facts and micro-phenomena characterizing this recent period’s urbanization. Finally, I aimed to describe these systematic background factors in abstract terms in order to provide a base for future comparative studies of other cases in the region.