DEVELOPMENT OF SUBURBS IN THE CONTEXT OF POST-SOCIALIST CONSUMPTION MODELS: THE CASE OF PIERĪGA

Gunta Darbiņa, Agita Lūse

Abstract


Transition from socialism to capitalism in Eastern and Central Europe has been characterized as the most courageous experiment with neo-liberal ideas in the contemporary world. Neo-liberalism as the process, it has been argued, had to be domesticated not only by political elites, but also by individuals, families and communities (Creed, 1998).Having a closer look at post-socialistic home life the term “normal” stands for a life standard which is extraordinary in the local context and is likened to an “average level of West” and is being realized in the sphere of housing development  and body care (Fehérváry,2002). A private house in the suburb surrounded by a lawn was

the forbidden dream   of the socialism era; there were a small number of private  houses for one family, but  in block house region people’s belonging to a place and their privacy was neglected. The research looks at challenges of post-socialism posed prestige by dwellings in a suburb, obtained with mortgages (credit) that have resulted in heavy financial obligations making a person heavily indebted.

In Latvia it is, first of all, Pierīga, the suburban zone surrounding the capital city of Rīga that corresponds to the concept of suburb as developed in the classical theories of the urban space. An active property development in Pierīga began at the turn of the new millennium when the real estate market was booming. Most local government authorities in their turn envisaged an unprecedented rise in number of real property and hurried to plan the development of their territories accordingly. The outcome was dozens of widely scattered real property clusters, built with no overarching communal development plan and with none or underdeveloped infrastructure. A folk term for such type of settlement was soon coined - pļavu ciemi (“the meadow villages”).

New research issues require application of Emergent Methods. Therefore this research integrates the quantitative and qualitative method in one study. It is a survey of the population (SKDS, 2009), which reveals a suburb as a desirable living place, however, without awareness of place affiliation and shows that the index of the satisfaction with different fields of life in the districts is within 16%>47%; the association to the place of residence was admitted by 5% of the inhabitants; the job was found by 8% of the respondents. But semi-structured interviews with families in the new private houses reveal both the advantageous and disadvantageous consequences that interviewees’ attribute to their decision, made several years ago, to acquire a real property in a suburb.

A private house in a post-socialistic suburb is often reminds as a heterotopia – a space contrasting to the surrounding area. And this process is not an illusion but a compensation (Foucault, 1986), which is based on socialism comprehension. It makes us think about the contradictions in creating suburban environment in post-socialistic conditions.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5755/j01.eis.0.6.1480


Keywords


suburb; post-socialist society; consumption; private house; heterotopia

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Print ISSN: 1822-8402
Online ISSN: 2335-8831