Degradation, restitution and the elusive culture of rural-urban thinking
Despite fierce criticisms, ‘rural’ and ‘urban’ still constitute powerful narratives around which we structure our society. The ‘formal reality’, however, frequently disregards the cultural nature of these concepts, elevating them to the role of objective spaces apt to serve as acceptable guiding perspectives. While the analytical inadequacy of rural-urban ideations is well-documented, the phenomenon of formal-cultural conflation remains much less explored. Acknowledging that ideational space of social representations can only exist through the practices of discursive interaction, this paper’s objective is to lay bare the phenomenon of rural-urban thinking when externalized through the little-known practices of ‘degradation’ and ‘restitution’ in Poland. Using conceptual methods, including discourse analysis and historical deconstruction, this paper assays the hidden architectures of formal-cultural conflation by means of a richly contextualized analysis. The findings, presented in four discursive openings, reveal embedded elements of hierarchy, loss, injustice and self-victimization, which may create a divisive culture spawned by elusive promises of development at the cost of misinterpretations of history, local disappointment and cultural segmentation. In conclusion, formal appropriation of historical concepts is likely to engender a cultural geography of discord spun around a largely insignificant division, especially when development-oriented aspects of urbanization become entwined with emotional issues.
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