From a Small Village to an Exclusive Gated Community: Unplanned Suburbanisation and Local Sovereignty in Post-Socialist Hungary

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

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From a Small Village to an Exclusive Gated Community: Unplanned Suburbanisation and Local Sovereignty in Post-Socialist Hungary


  • Adrienne Csizmady Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Sociology, Hungary / Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Szeged, Hungary
  • Márton Bagyura Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Sociology, Hungary
  • Gergely Olt Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Sociology, Hungary


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Abstract:  In Hungary, after the regime change in 1989, one of the most important institutional changes concerning suburbanisation was the high sovereignty of local authorities, albeit without appropriate funding for sovereign operation. This type of local sovereignty made mezzo-level planning and cooperation of independent municipalities ineffective. The inherent systemic political corruption of the rapid post-socialist privatisation hindered spontaneous cooperation as well. As a result, suburban infrastructure, even in municipalities with high-status residents, remained underdeveloped (from traffic connections through waste management to water provision). Our research field, Telki, was successful in selling land because its scenic location and the absence of industrial and commercial activities made it attractive for high-status suburban settlers. These newcomers were not interested in the further functional development of the village, and, as they took local political power, they successfully restricted economic and functional development. Consequently, selling land and introducing property taxes remained the most important source of income. The colonisation of the village by newcomers also meant the displacement of lower status original villagers and, today, mostly high-status families with young children feel at home in Telki. Others feel excluded not only because of real estate prices but also by the lack of appropriate functions or simply by the narrow concept of an appropriate lifestyle in the village defined by local power. The consequence of a complete lack of cooperation and rational planning is not only social injustice, elite segregation, and environmental harm, but also the reduced economic and housing potential of the Budapest agglomeration.

Keywords:  Budapest; post-socialist urban transformation; residential suburbanisation; settlement planning; urbanisation

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v7i3.5275


© Adrienne Csizmady, Márton Bagyura, Gergely Olt. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.