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Socio-economic differences in peripheral housing estates : The case of Várpalota

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Title: Socio-economic differences in peripheral housing estates : The case of Várpalota
Author(s): Stomfai, Mark
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science
Degree program: Master 's Programme in Urban Studies and Planning
Specialisation: USP Peoples
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2022
Many people consider housing estates unaesthetic and/or socio-economically problematic places. However, as Hess et. al. (2018) point out, a more differentiated approach is required as there are differences between housing estates, originating from their local contexts. The thesis adopts this viewpoint and aims to provide a differentiated analysis regarding socio-economic differences in three peripheral housing estates in the city of Várpalota (Hungary), while also attempting to identify the root causes of these differences. The thesis relies heavily on the use of primary sources. Census data are essential for the analysis of socio-economic conditions (e. g. unemployment, educational attainment), and are featured extensively in the research. In addition, urban development documents add important layers to the understanding of the local context and municipal attitudes towards the housing estates, both during and after the communist regime. Scientific literature in English and Hungarian is employed to create sufficient contextualization and to interpret the contents of primary sources. The research considers the location of the housing estate, the economic context, the quality of the built environment, and rehabilitation projects as the main potential root causes for socio-economic differences. All these factors are scrutinized in the thesis, and the analysis of the relationship between the conditions portrayed by census data and the rehabilitation projects outlined in urban development programmes (or their absence) is fundamental in the research. The thesis argues that the rehabilitation projects taking place in Várpalota, while consisting of some beneficial elements, have not offered all-encompassing solutions to the socio-economic issues in some locations, due to several factors (their length, the timing of the intervention, the contents of the project etc.). Even though the focus of the research is on the three peripheral housing estates in Várpalota, other broader themes are also touched upon. The thesis proposes the modification of the criteria for a location to be categorized as a ’housing estate’ in Hungary. Furthermore, broader considerations regarding contemporary Hungarian urban planning and transportation planning are also made in the thesis.
Keyword(s): Housing estates socio-economic differences Várpalota Hungary

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