Geographia Polonica (1985) vol. 51

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Changing views of the city in Polish geographical research

Kazimierz Dziewoński

Geographia Polonica (1985) vol. 51, pp. 51-56


Very early in the first post-war years a specific polarization of studies in settlement geography and in particular in urban geography has taken place. One, well pronounced approach was to study — on the basis of population and economic phenomena — the functional problems of settlement and urban development; and the other, much better rooted in traditional research, but much weaker in its intensity, was concerned with the morphology of settlement as expressed among others by types of land and building utilization and their distributions. This polarization may also be defined as the study of human contents and material forms of settlement.

The inspiration for both approaches came originally from the physical planning authorities and offices. The functional approach evolved out of the needs of planning at the national and regional levels for more definite and precise projections of future growth, short- and long-term tendencies in population changes in individual cities. The morphological one has been derived out of efforts to identify various zones of land utilization and to define building regulations in city planning. With most economic planning aiming at the rapid and forced industrialization of the whole country, the functional approach seemed and in fact was of the greater importance and in the period of the last thirty years of evolution reached an undoubted state of maturity with a large number of defined and developed basic concepts, some fully fledged theories, and subtle and complex analytical methods based and derived from detailed topical studies. On the other hand morphological research although never completely discarded has been unable to develop wider generalizations or truly theoretical ideas and views. In this paper therefore the whole presentation follows systematically the achievements and changes of the functional research with only incidental references to the more important of the morphological studies as they have occurred through time.


Kazimierz Dziewoński, Instytut Geografii i Przestrzennego Zagospodarowania PAN ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 30, 00-927 Warszawa