Since about the 1980s shrinkage has become a new normality especially for European cities and urban regions. As a consequence of the shrinking process, new dimensions of wastelands appear in the affected cities. Urban planners have to find solutions for these “holes” in the urban fabric and new visions are needed for open spaces. In the last few years, the wilderness concept has emerged in the planning field and it has become a fashionable term, in particular in urban restructuring in eastern Germany. If wilderness is a usable concept for urban restructuring, can wilderness be a new structuring element for urban planning? This article analyzes the mechanisms of formation of wasteland in shrinking cities, and then focuses on related debates in urban planning as well as the debates in urban ecology and nature conservation research. The article concludes by considering different aspects of these debates and the question of which role wilderness can play in shrinking cities is discussed.
The transformation process of eastern Germany began with the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 11, 1989. The time needed to formally replace the former socialist system with a market economy was short, not more than one year. But transformation should be defined in a broader sense and include the process of integrating the former socialist economies into the world markets and of establishing sustainable growth in that area. In that sense, the transformation of eastern Germany is far from finished (this is even more the case for central-eastern European economies).
How can one best investigate the mental attitudes and patterns of
behavior of eastern Germans eight years after political unification?
Since 1990, the method dominating this discussion has been based
on measuring the degree to which easterners have “caught up” with
the supposedly more modern western Germans. However, empirical
studies and surveys have shown that this model is an ineffective, even
inappropriate means of describing how unification has impacted the
lives of eastern Germans. In this article, I argue that a more appropriate
approach is to consider the enduring differences in the opportunity
structures among eastern and western Germans, as well as the
differences in their respective behavioral patterns. In this context,
“opportunity structure” refers to the opportunities provided and limitations
imposed by social structures. For the analysis of opportunity
structures, I focus on what I call “contradictory adaptation” and
“problematic normalization.” My analysis of behavioral patterns
emphasizes the logic internal to the subjects themselves (Eigenlogik).
This internal logic differs significantly from outsiders’ interpretations
of easterners’ behavior, as the following example illustrates.
In the past century, Germany, for better and for worse, offered itself
as a natural laboratory for political science. Indeed, Germany’s
excesses of political violence and its dramatic regime changes largely
motivated the development of postwar American political science,
much of it the work of German émigrés and German-Jewish
refugees, of course. The continuing vicissitudes of the German experience
have, however, posed a particular challenge to the concept of
political culture as elaborated in the 1950s and 1960s,1 at least in
part to explain lingering authoritarianism in formally democratic
West Germany. Generally associated with political continuity or only
incremental change,2 the concept of political culture has been illequipped
to deal with historical ruptures such as Germany’s “break
with civilization” of 1933-1945 and the East German popular revolution
of 1989. As well, even less dramatic but still important and relatively
rapid cultural changes such as the rise of a liberal democratic
Verfassungspatriotismus sometime around the late 1970s in West Germany3
and the emergence of a postmodern, consumer capitalist culture
in eastern Germany since 19944 do not conform to mainstream
political culture theory’s expectations of gradual, only generational
change. To be sure, continuity, if not inertia, characterizes much of
politics, even in Germany. Still, to be of theoretical value, the concept
of political culture must be able not only to admit but to
account for change.
Despite several breakthroughs that indicate radical right parties' significant electoral potential, they remain highly volatile players in both Poland and eastern Germany. This is puzzling because radical right competitors can benefit from favorable politico-cultural conditions shaped by postcommunist legacies. The electoral markets in Poland and the eastern German Länder show low levels of affective party identification and low levels of political trust in mainstream parties and government institutions. Most importantly, there is a sizeable, yet largely unrepresented segment of voters who share salient counter-cosmopolitan preferences. They point to a “silent counterrevolution“ against globalization and cosmopolitan value change that displays substantive affinities to radical right ideology. Offering a transborder regional comparison of the four most relevant radical right parties and their conditions for electoral mobilization in Poland and eastern Germany, this article argues that the radical right's crossnational volatility-and often underperformance-in elections is mainly caused by internal supply side factors. They range from organizational deficiencies, leadership issues, and internal feuds, to strategic failures and a lack of democratic responsiveness. In turn, the disequilibrium between counter-cosmopolitan demand and its political representation is likely to be reduced if radical right competitors become more effective agents of electoral mobilization-or new, better organized ones emerge.
The decline and dissolution of eastern Germany’s agricultural production
cooperatives (APCs) has been anticipated by formal economic theory since
reunification on the grounds of inefficiency.1 Yet, more recent scholarship
on the varieties of capitalism tells us that efficiency does not lead to simple
convergence of market forms, but rather that different institutional solutions
and social systems of production can achieve desired ends—including
efficiency—with varied designs.2 Today, the cooperative farm sector, underpinned
by conservative, democratic governance, persists without naiveté
and little nostalgia on the cusp of a new postcommunist generation and still
accounts for the largest share of agricultural production in eastern Germany.
Even if the cooperative farming sector follows a slow decline, the
firms will convert or persist depending less on their ability to achieve
efficiency as on their ability to maintain productive land holdings, and to
promote a new generation of management and enthusiastic members committed
not to nostalgia but toward the future of their own lives, their firms,
and their local communities. Some of the cooperatives are likely to persist
for a long time. In this article, in an effort to understand the environment
in which cooperatives face the future, I provide an eyewitness account of
the internal politics between workers and bosses, highlight survival strategies,
consider the institutional constraints and supports facing cooperatives,
and sketch portraits of the farmers who face the task of carrying the cooperative
Jonathan Olsen and Dan Hough
This article analyses the development of Left Party/PDS-SPD coalitions in the eastern German Länder. It develops an explanatory framework based on attempts to understand how red-green coalitions came into being in the 1990s. The article concludes that red-red coalitions emerge when four basic criteria are fulfilled: the SPD has few other viable potential coalition options and believes it can gain in strategic terms; the ideological distance between the Left Party/PDS and SPD is small; and the personal relationships between Land-level leaders are good. The paper also argues that the heterogeneity of the Left Party/PDS is likely to ensure that Land-specific solutions to Land-specific coalition dilemmas are very likely to remain of significance in the future.
Policy on transport infrastructure in Germany will come under increasing pressure thanks to considerable changes in basic conditions. Demographic change, shifts in economic and regional structures, continued social individualization, and the chronic budget crisis in the public sphere are forcing a readjustment of government action. At root, the impact of the changes in demographics and economic structures touches on what Germans themselves think their postwar democracy stands for. Highly consensual underlying assumptions about Germany as a model are being shaken. The doctrine that development of infrastructure is tantamount to growth and prosperity no longer holds. The experience in eastern Germany shows that more and better infrastructure does not automatically lead to more growth. Moreover, uniform government regulation is hitting limits. If the differences between boom regions and depopulated zones remain as large as they are, then it makes no sense to have the same regulatory maze apply to both cases. In transportation policy, that shift would mean recasting the legal foundations of public transport.
Joshua Feinstein, The Triumph of the Ordinary: Depictions of Daily Life in the East German Cinema, 1949-1989 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2002)
Leonie Naughton, Film Culture, Unification, and the “New” Germany (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002)
On October 3, 1990 the territory of the German Democratic Republic was incorporated into the Federal Republic of Germany, thereby ending forty-five years of German division. At the time, assessments varied widely about whether the wholesale introduction of the West German political, legal, and socioeconomic systems into the formerly communist east would be a success, and what the implications of success or failure would be for the new united Germany. Ten years later, opinions on these fundamental questions remain divided. One group of optimistic observers maintains that the full integration of the east into an enlarged Federal Republic is well underway, though these observers acknowledge that progress has been slower and more uneven than first anticipated. A more pessimistic assessment is provided by those who claim that, if the present pattern of development continues, the east will remain in a position of permanent structural weakness vis-à-vis the west in a way analogous to that of Italy’s Mezzogiorno.