“Provinzstädte” – central places in rural Germany

Authors: Silke Weidner*, , Antje Matern, BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg, James Stevens*, Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Europe, Qualitative Methods
Keywords: Provinzstadt, life-world characteristic, central places, rural areas
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Cleveland 1, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The paper aims to summarize the current discourse on the term “Provinzstadt” in the German-language context, to introduce it to an international audience and to reflect on the role of such cities as significant central places in rural areas.
“Provinz” brings with it various associations in German-speaking regions. Within the historical context political-administrative categories are definitive, while the origins of this city type are related to, among others, inheritance and geomorphological factors. Currently the once strictly negative connotation is beginning to take a positive turn. Although the growing metropolitan centers dominate the contemporary scientific and societal discussions, the “Provinzstädte” are increasingly gaining importance and attention (cf. Institut für Stadtplanung/ BTU 2017; Baumgart, Overhageböck, Rüdiger 2011; Bell, Jayne 2009; Hodos 2011; Schmidt-Lauber 2010).
The analysis of the term’s etymology and interpretation comprise the first part of the paper and the basis for the subsequent examination of this city type. Methodologically five selected case studies will be analyzed and compared to the Big Seven cities in Germany based on quantitative and especially qualitative characteristics. Respective hypotheses will be formulated to be discussed among the session participants.
Spatial-structural and -ordering, functional and life-world characteristics of the selected “Provinzstädte” will be examined and discussed. In addition to demographic characteristics also qualitative factors such as regional location, centrality, function, historical development of increased significance, urban structure, quality of life etc. will be introduced.

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