Inventing a Capitalist Region: Upper Silesia/Poland - Economic Transformations in Old-Industrial and Post-Socialist Spaces of Central and Eastern Europe

Weis, Christian (2007). Inventing a Capitalist Region: Upper Silesia/Poland - Economic Transformations in Old-Industrial and Post-Socialist Spaces of Central and Eastern Europe. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000ea1c

Abstract

The thesis explores economic, political and social processes in former socialist countries with a case study in one of the biggest conurbations in Europe, Upper Silesia. The ongoing but selective economic processes of global and macro-regional economic integration have been identified as a main issue in geographical research. In particular the nexus between the global and the local seen as a dialectical relationship, composed of multiple and asymmetric interdependencies has stressed the necessity of utilising relational analysis in economic geography. The question emerges in what ways and to what extent increasing economic integration may lead to a socio-economic convergence of places or the development of 'indigenous capacities', spatial peculiarities and legacies to establish themselves in capitalist networks of production.

With empirical reference to the Polish conurbation of Upper Silesia and drawing on the analytical framework from Michael Storper's 'Holy Trinity' ("The Regional World", New York, 1997), this thesis analyses post socialist urban and regional transformations from three angles. 1. While Storper analysed mainly 'successful' regions in the West, the research tries to identify the main challenges that face any simple attempt to adapt western (theoretical) approaches within a post-socialist, Central East European context. 2. The thesis then identifies the fabric of political economic actors and the path dependent 'invention' of a region, here Upper Silesia, and analysis locally and regionally embedded and recombined informal institutions and their capacity for restructuring of an old industrial space. 3. While inter- and intra-regional competition is growing in an 'era of globalisation', the thesis finally investigates the scope for action and 'reflexive' interrelations between administrative, political and economic actors in an 'ordinary region' prior to the accession to the European Union.

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