What Was So Socialist about the Socialist City? Second World Urbanity in Europe

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Journal of Urban History, ISSN: 1552-6771, Vol: 44, Issue: 1, Page: 95-117

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https://lib.dr.iastate.edu/arch_pubs/91; http://works.bepress.com/kimberly_zarecor/19
Kimberly Elman Zarecor
SAGE Publications
Arts and Humanities; Social Sciences; socialism; communism; urbanity; infrastructure; mass housing
article description
Socialist cities have most often been studied as manifestations of the socialist system itself, linked to the political fate of the Communist Parties in power during their design, construction, and expansion. This article revisits the socialist city and argues for the validity of the concept historically and in the present. Looking qualitatively at this distinct paradigm in Europe, two analytical frameworks are offered, infrastructural thinking and the socialist scaffold. The analysis shows that the universal aspiration for socialist cities was their continuous operation as synchronized instruments of economic production and social transformation in physical space. Distinct from capitalist cities, they had an ideological role in an economic model that instrumentalized cities as nodes in an integrated system, described using Stephen Kotkin’s term, “single entity.” The agency of the socialist scaffold has continued into the era of neoliberalism, shown here to have previously unexplored roots in socialism.