Tag Archives: Poland

Falowiec: landscape of communism in Gdansk, Poland.

Nueva imagen (2)

I have recently been walking around “Falowiec” (form the Polish word fala, wave; plural: falowce) in Gdansk, the longest building in Europe. It is a block of flats characterised by its length and wavy shape. This type of building was built in Poland in the late 1960s and 1970s in the Polish city of Gdańsk, where there are eight buildings of this type. Some buildings of this kind are also present in Italy.

The best-known falowiec in Gdańsk, located at the Obrońców Wybrzeża street, has:

11 stories (10 plus the ground floor)
nearly 6,000 occupants
4 segments (4 staircases in each segment of 110 apartments).
a length of around 850 m (2788 ft)

Soviet mass housing is a contradictory but unique phenomenon. It is usually blamed for creating the most monotonous built environment in the history of mankind, thus constituting a symbol of individual suppression and dejection. The construction programme launched in the post-Stalinist era was the largest undertaken in modern architectural history worldwide. At the same time, Soviet mass housing fulfilled a colossal social role, providing tens of millions of families with their own apartments. It shaped the culture and everyday life of nearly all Soviet citizens. Yet, due to the very scale of construction, it managed to evolve into a complex world denoting an abundance of myths and secrets, achievements and failures. Soviet mass housing is indisputably intriguing, but nevertheless it is still neglected as a theme of research. Therefore, the time is ripe for a critical appraisal of this ambitious project. The authors aim to identify the most significant mass housing series designed and engineered from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok.




What to do with an old power plant in the middle of the city? The case of Łódź, in Poland

Gentrification of a postsocialist old centre in Gdansk, Poland

Yesterday, walking from industrial area in the surrounding of Gdansk until the historic old center. It was worth photographing the difference in terms of housing in hardly half a kilometer, as well as the contrast between old industrial sites by the river and the new real state that is being raised. The river side is experiencing a growing gentrification process. The ruins of second war, a kind of open air museum of how WWII destroyed the city are becoming debris while the city invest in a huge and modern museum of WWII. Komfort investment firm is building a luxury and privilege view condominium near the river.


Postsocialism and postindustrialism: how outsourcing and offshoring boom is transforming Gdansk city, Poland

Gdansk city is emerging as the next outsourcing city. As many other mid-size cities in the country in the last decade, as well as the capital Warsaw did since 1990, the city is harbouring a increasing number of multinational corporations that aim to outsoource certain business process. In a preious post I echo a very interesting article on the boom experience in this city due to the arrival of BPO to the city (Business Process Outsourcing). They represent nowadays the 30% of employment. As suggested by the major in that article, the “boom” is “rebranding the city”. This photos, taken at the so called “Oliwa Gate, the district where most of the BPO are being located, try to reflect visually this phenomenon.

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Health and happiness: cross-sectional household surveys in Finland, Poland and Spain



To explore the associations between health and how people evaluate and experience their lives.


We analysed data from nationally-representative household surveys originally conducted in 2011–2012 in Finland, Poland and Spain. These surveys provided information on 10 800 adults, for whom experienced well-being was measured using the Day Reconstruction Method and evaluative well-being was measured with the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale. Health status was assessed by questions in eight domains including mobility and self-care. We used multiple linear regression, structural equation models and multiple indicators/multiple causes models to explore factors associated with experienced and evaluative well-being.


The multiple indicator/multiple causes model conducted over the pooled sample showed that respondents with younger age (effect size, β = 0.19), with higher levels of education (β = −0.12), a history of depression (β = −0.17), poor health status (β = 0.29) or poor cognitive functioning (β = 0.09) reported worse experienced well-being. Additional factors associated with worse evaluative well-being were male sex (β = −0.03), not living with a partner (β = 0.07), and lower occupational (β = −0.07) or income levels (β = 0.08). Health status was the factor most strongly correlated with both experienced and evaluative well-being, even after controlling for a history of depression, age, income and other sociodemographic variables.


Health status is an important correlate of well-being. Therefore, strategies to improve population health would also improve people’s well-being.

Miret, M., Caballero, F. F., Chatterji, S., Olaya, B., Tobiasz-Adamczyk, B., Koskinen, S., … & Ayuso-Mateos, J. L. (2014). Health and happiness: cross-sectional household surveys in Finland, Poland and Spain. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 92(10), 716-725.

Transcripts of “Qualitative data analysis” course introduction.

[Qualitative data analysis course as part of Economic Analysis program at Faculty of Economics of Gdansk University of Technology]


Good, so! This is qualitative data analysis class. My name is Xaquín Pérez-Sindín López. The first thing I want to do is invite you to call me Xaquín. In class, during office hours, whenever, this is name I respond to. I will eventually respond to Pérez, López, professor López, but the truth is that those are not the names I immediately recognise.
Well, I will structure the class in three simple questions, WHO I am? WHY Qualitative data analysis course and WHAT does it consist of?
The first thing I want to talk is to do a thorough introduction of myself. I want basically to invite you for a ride over my last decade of life, a kind of time space trip, like gravitational waves recently discovered. Believe me or not, there is a connection between qualitative research gravitational waves.
I like to begin with my own presentation because one´s background is probably a way you to see what to expect from this course.
First of all, I come from Spain, particularly from the Autonomous Community of Galicia. Let me draw first a map. I love maps. Could someone tell me where is Galicia… All of them are part of a peripheral region in relation to the main economic centres, that is, Barcelona. It means that Galicia is probably sharing certain economic aspects with other peripheral regions in Europe, for instance Pomerania voivodship.
Madrid is here, Barcelona here, do you know what the Spain´s capital is? Have you ever been to Galicia? Well if you have, this is just because of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Well apart from Santiago de Compostela there are two other main cities, Vigo and A Coruña.
However, none of them is the place I was born. I was born in a midsize town in the North, called As Pontes de García Rodríguez. So my second life category, the second category that defines me as person is the fact I was born in a midsize town. This is not a banal issues, I am talking about the categories that define us because they are usually crucial when choosing a research topic. So let me tell you beforehand that one of the requisites to pass this course is to write a paper and to do so you should have a good research topic. And I will put special emphasis on how you all focus a good research topic.
I will tell you a little bit about the As Pontes economies, the economy of my hometown. Until seventies As Pontes used to be an agriculture and trade oriented town but, since the localization of a huge deposit of coal nearby, an energy mining comparing invested in the town to produce energy out of coal-fired. That meant the construction of a huge power plant, as the one can find in such places as Konin, in the south of Poland. That fact supposed the creation of thousand well paid jobs in a rather quiet and rural place. Most of the new jobs were covered by outsiders since the company needed skilled workers. In conclusion, this physical investment caused a so called boom effect. The town exploited in economic and demographic terms. I am telling you that because that was precisely the topic of my most recent investigation which was my thesis dissertation too. Socio-economic impact of big industries. I did analysed such indicators as unemployment rate before and after the boom; GDP, income. This is not a banal issue in contemporary world. What about other kind of developments? What is the socioeconomic impact of the new metropolitan train? What about Riviera in Gdynia or the new train station in Sopot? How local economy has changed? How does it affect the local economy, the local business around? Answer these kind of questions requires economics analysis and, in a great extent, qualitative analysis.
So, the second step took me to A Coruña, where I attended university. I graduated in Sociology in 2003 having got pretty specialized in local development field. Soon after I joined a consulting company. There I was pretty much engaged in conducing qualitative research by mean the use of some of the techniques we´ll cover in this course such as semi-structure interview, focus group etc. The company, by the way, was located in Ferrol. Do you know Ferrol? Well, it is a shipbuilding city. It means that if in my hometown the main economic and employment driver was mining industry, here was shipbuilding. A huge part of local labour force is still employed on shipyard.
Next stop would already be Poland, particularly Gdynia. Here I joined Thomson Reuter in 2010, being part of a financial data analysis team centred in Portuguese speaking markets, mainly Brazil. My role there was basically report the main developments that were taking place in Brazil, for instance, whenever a two listed companies merged we were supposed to report this fact and translate it into English. Nothing special to be honest but I get something very important for my current position. I now have an inside perspective of the local economy.
Let me ask you something, what are the main economic drivers of Trojmiasto economy?
This is course on qualitative data analysis, but it is course on economics too, since it is part of a broader program on economics analysis. If we look back primitive societies, qualitative data analysis did not exist probably because they weren´t a necessity, neither economics nor probably science as we know understand it. Well, I don´t want to elaborate on this point but I just want you to see the point of why we need qualitative analysis nowadays.
The primitive society was simply organized: tribes, low ranking (hierarchical), barter base economies and perhaps some differences regarding gender and age; but above all, much less interdependent than nowadays, I mean relationship between different communities were lower. States did not exist and even less globalization. Hence local communities were the only socioeconomic organization. What is more, most of the members of such communities had face-to-face contacts so whatever they wanted to communicate they just need to go there and tell something. In this societies, in the pre-industrial societies. People needed a dwelling and they build it. They needed a path to carry out goods and they build it. Hence, there was a direct relation between the individuals and the territory, i.e. the resources. We can say that urban and economics problems were solved by mean a unidirectional relationship. I am hungry I plant potatoes; I need a house I build it. In these societies, the traditional societies, everything is solved in a relatively easy way. When you need a dwelling you build a hut or even a cave.
As time passes, human settlements are getting complex, communities become proper societies. Spinning jenny, steam engine and many other inventions encouraged strong changes. Industrial revolution affected greatly European and American society. Well, you know all this story, don´t you? The rapidness of the changes over the last two centuries has increased exponentially.
But in the complex, industrial, urban and capitalist societies this isn’t it. You live in a dense city so we need to agree where one or another build their home and you can´t no longer plant potatoes or hunt beers. But the question is that now we still need to eat potatoes and houses but now it depends on macro factors due to the introduction of a monetary system, political system, media system etc. and, particularly, over the last decades global institutions. What is more, we do now belong to one state, as Poland, Spain, supranational organizations as European Union. They are our community, but the difference is that we don’t know each other. It means that you share many things with people you will never see each other; you share a language, costumes, cultures, etc. Benedict Anderson coined the concept of imagined communities in reference to, for instance, states. So you can imagine the community you are part of, let’s say Poland or European Union but at the difference of primitive communities you can´t have face-to-face interactions with most of the people. In a primitive community doing an economic analysis means how many plantations and how many houses you have in your community. So you don´t even need to write a report.
But it does not work out in complex societies. We still need to count economic activities but we now need more sophisticated analysis. And the more complex society is, the more sophisticate. Here show up social science and economic analysis in particular to understand reality beyond human eye. And here comes the problem, how to draw a reliable depiction of the local economy in Trojmiasto? (Reliable in a sense of not being subjected to our individual judgment but objective) That is an accurate and not biased depiction. An analysis that match reality as much as possible. Here, statistics play a crucial role. We now have countless instruments to quantify the reality. How many new foreign outsourcing companies are settled down right now in Gdansk? But of course, we humans evolve and we are able to raise more complex question since reality is also complex. So, we can ask what is the relationship between economic growths and demography?. You will hear about this from Piotr Dominiak because, correct me if I am wrong, you have a course on this topic with him. Or what are the drivers of socioeconomic development in Trojmiasto?
As you can imagine many of these questions may be answered by mean quantitative analysis and statistical proofs, particularly, those head by how many, how much? But whenever you want to inquiry more hidden elements of the reality, and this is something we will cover next week when talking about the essentials of qualitative research, for instance, why some regions attract foreign investment? Why do some regions grow economically and others not? What does working in a corporation in Gdansk mean? We can imagine what is working in shipyards in Poland. I guess that some of your parents or grandparents worked at Gdansk port, so many of you know what it means. For instance, there is a very interesting question I hope some of you will choose as research topic. How new corporation are impacting local economy? Are small and medium size companies in Trojmiasto benefiting from it? Well we could for sure undertake a quantitative analysis, but we first need to inquiry with interviews to managers or employees, decision makers or stakeholders.
So to answer this question from a qualitative point of view, we need, paradoxically, to return to primitive societies interactions, we need to look for face-to-face interactions or simply observe the reality. We need to interview people, ask questions. They might not represent the majority of the people, but still, we sometimes need primary data to dig into a priori very complex issues.
Global village: there is another concept you may be familiar with and I want to highlight to explain why we need qualitative data analysis. The concept of global village, associated with the Canadian-born Marshall McLuhan, which at the same time is connected to globalization. According to McLuhan globe has been contracted into a village by electric technology and the instantaneous movement of information from every quarter to every point at the same time. In other words, all the historical processes I have described before, the pass from traditional to modern societies, from agriculture oriented to industry oriented societies are usually the result of new technology. As you know the printing machine or the steam engine triggered, induced many of these changes. In this sense, communication technologies, first printing machine, radio, television and more recently internet are in the base of many changes. What Mcluhan comes to say with this concept is that these technologies allow humans from all over the world share information instantaneously. We are bombarded with information, sometimes with origin in Poland, other times in Japan or US. So we live in the so called information society. [Speech began 30,000 years ago, but alphabetic-written communication is just about four millennia old #McLuhan]
It means that the traditional face-to-face interactions are now converted into alphabetic-written communication and more and more via online tools. Hence, addressing contemporary phenomena usually lead us to deal with text based interactions. Newspapers, online communities, new social media etc. Might perfectly the top source of primary information to, for instance, understand how decisions makers and stakeholders treat the economic changes experienced right now in Trojmiasto. And that´s why I also want to introduce in this course a very well known research technique: content analysis. Although it is often associated with quantitative approach, I really want to slightly show how useful this kind of a

nalysis might be to enrich the research process. But not only alphabetic-written or verbal communication. Non verbal or image-based cultural production may be also a great source of information. Imagine for a second we analyse all graphitise in Trojmiasto, you divide all the text in categories-topics. This might be giving us relevant information to understand hidden values of youth in the city, if we assume that they are written by young population. Or someone, anonymously, spend one month working in a company as a regular worker when in reality is trying to observe workers behaviour in informal settings. We will have the opportunity to go into real cases in future lectures, now I want you to review the syllabus of the subject and the requirements to pass the course…see syllabus

“The European City in Transformation: Urban politics and urban planning in a postsocialist city”


This book analyses postsocialist urban policy. The focus lies on the question of how certain it is that postsocialist Eastern European Cities are approaching the Model of the classic “European City“. The city of Warsaw was chosen as case study. Based on the neo-weberian approach developed by Le Galès, the author defines the characteristics of the European City in the field of urban planning and studies them in relation to the contemporary debate on Governance. The public institutions along with the formal urban policy goals in Warsaw show convergence to the Model of the European City. However in practice, informal processes and negotiations initiated by economically strong parties dominate the urban development in Warsaw. This duality of urban development stands against the Model of the European City. The situation in Warsaw is compared with urban planning processes in Budapest, Prague, Wroclaw, Poznan and Gdansk. As a result, the specifics of postsocialist urban policy and the Varsovian urban development are shown. This demonstrates that there is no linear progression from the postsocialist city to- wards the European Model. Instead, a particular Eastern European type of urban development has evolved.
Koch, F. (2010). Die europäische Stadt in Transformation. Springer Fachmedien.

Urbanismo en la ciudad post-socialista: un viejo y no gentrificado parque en el centro de Gdynia (Polonia)

Las dinámicas urbanas en la sociedad industrial capitalista condicionan en gran medida la forma de entender la calle, la forma de hacer uso de ella. Me ha parecido formidable el artículo de Manuel Delgado en su blog personal “El carrer com a espai perdut” (la calle como un espacio perdido). En el habla de como los niños son expulsados de lo que un día fue su “imperio natural”: los barrios, la calle, ámbito de socialización fundamental y del que ahora se les preserva por “amparar la caricatura que de ellos se ha hecho”. “Acuartelados” en casa o en la escuela, conentrándose en especios singulares para “el consumo y la estupidez”, poniéndose en manos de monitores que los monitorizan, los protegen de la “calle”, al tiempo que protegen a esa misma calle-ahora gentrificada y bonita pero desierta de niños- de la dosis supletoria de maraña que los niños siempre están en condiciones de añadir. Negando a los niños el derecho a la ciudad, continúa, se les niega a la ciudad mantener activada su propia infancia. (Ver también este)

Este artículo me ha recordado a una escena que durante varios meses se repetía en mi vida cotidiana en la ciudad polaca de Gdynia. Durante una temporada solía escribir mi tesis doctoral en la biblioteca pública y a menudo hacía descansos para pasear y comer algo en un parque cercano. Considero interesante esta reflexión por lo excepcional de esta experiencia dado que en Gdynia, al igual que en otras muchas ciudades post-socialistas, también es pertinente hablar de una “pérdida de la calle” y espacio público en general. Así fue como lo describí en su día. También saqué algunas fotos.

Es habitual escuchar un bullicio de gente charlando junto con las voces de niños jugueteando por la plaza. Suelen ser un grupo de unos 6 o 7, con edades comprendidas entre los 2 y los 10 años. A simple vista se puede ver una amigable relación entre ellos. El mayor juega con una botella de plástico, mientras el más pequeño, entusiasmado, no le quita el ojo de encima. Lo mira con signos de admiración, como si de un tesoro se tratase. De vez en cuando surge algún conflicto, nada que no arreglen ellos mismos, y si no es así, allí está algún adulto para impedirlo. En una de las fotos, una señora sentada en el banco llama la atención a uno de los chicos por haber empujar una chica, ambos de unos 5 años. Una pareja permanece sentada amorosamente en otro de los bancos. Yo, como tantos días, observo estas escenas mientras tomo mi almuerzo.

2012-08-28 15.54.00 2012-08-28 15.54.28 2012-08-30 11.52.51 2012-08-30 11.53.02

Polish-German Border Towns: Models of Transnationalism?

Border towns 1.JPG

Funded by the British Academy this project investigates the transformations of public space in interface areas of the German-Polish ‘twin towns’ of Frankfurt-Slubice, Guben-Gubin and Görlitz-Zgorzelec along the Oder-Neisse border. Despite modest populations, the border towns have major symbolic value for two nations attempting to write a new chapter in a modern history marked by war, trauma and deep resentments. The eastward expansion of the EU has propelled the towns from the margins to the heart of Europe. Cultural and socio-economic divisions nevertheless run deep. With the opening of the borders in 2007 changing physical realities are dramatically impacting possibilities of transnational interactions. This project offers the first comparative study of the border towns and specifically the role of spatial settings in cross-border exchange. This allows for a more contextual account of the relationship between social practice and place in German-Polish twin towns and sheds light on how communities use urban environments to cope with legacies of conflict and ongoing ethno-national difference.

Principal Investigator: Dr Maximilian Sternberg

Associated researcher: Lefkos Kyriacou

Photographer: Matthias Schumann (www.monofoto.de)

Gdansk, from shipbuilding city to outsourcing city.

I stumbled across this article on Gdansk local economy. It is worth mentioning how the city is becoming a center of outsourcing as well as other Polish cities over the last decade. I do believe that this model of development requires more deep research from social science point of view. I just want to quote the said by the major of the city on how this “boom” is “rebranding the city”:

“This is absolutely rebranding the city,” said Paweł Adamowicz, mayor of Gdansk. “It is hugely important. We lack the finance, the capital of western cities. But we offer something extra, something competitive. We offer our brains, our intelligence.”

Mr Adamowicz said the outsourcing industry accounts for as much as 30 per cent of the city’s economy, and is its fastest growing.

The question is: is outsourcing a step forward or back for local economies? In this other article it is said that Goldman Sachs expands operations in Poland as a growing IT hub. The reasons are openly stated: “affordable labor force” (low salaries), “tax incentives” (basically not paying for the operations) and “large IT graduate pool” (young demographic structure people willing to get low salaries).

Poland is a growing IT hub for financial institutions in Europe due to its affordable labor force, tax incentives and large IT graduate pool, according to a report from Rule Financial, the U.K.-based investment banking consultancy acquired last year by German technology company GFT Group.
Wages are lower in Poland than in many other major economies in the European Union. UBS Group AG, Bank of New York Mellon Corp.