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The urban transition in post-Soviet Russia: adjustments to the planning process in different urban contexts


Iyer, Seema Desai (2003). The urban transition in post-Soviet Russia: adjustments to the planning process in different urban contexts. Master's thesis / Doctoral dissertation.


The dissolution of the Soviet Union heralded what many authors refer to as the end of central planning. Since 1991, local officials and residents alike are revisiting fundamental issues with respect to planning, plans, and planners themselves. The analysis in this dissertation shows that the perceptions at the local level towards these fundamental issues vary for different types of post-Soviet cities: province capitals, Soviet-era company towns and pre-revolutionary (1917) towns. The variation across cities reflects the planning response to unique urban transitions within each city-type in the face of political, economic and demographic change. In this dissertation, I analyze one aspect of the urban transition, namely population movement via the migration system. The patterns and determinants of internal migration for each type of city are distinct from other city-types as well as from those experienced before the dissolution. This dissertation examines the relationship between post-Soviet urban change and adjustments to the planning process. First, I test using the rank-size method the initial hypothesis that variation in city-size would increase in post-Soviet Russia to converge towards distributions found in market economies. I conclude that increasing unevenness in city-size depends on the nature of variation that existed prior to the dissolution as well as geographic location. From this analysis, the Irkutsk oblast represents a case study for regions experiencing increasing variation. Second, I compare patterns of migration in the later phase of the transition (1997-1999) using vital registration (propiska ) data from the Irkutsk oblast with migration in the early phase (1991-1994) using the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (RLMS). Third, I employ multinomial logistic regression models to distinguish among migration destinations over time. My results demonstrate that the migration system shifts from one based on structural centrality during the Soviet period to one based on spatial centrality during the later stage of the Russian transition. Finally, interviews of local practitioners in Irkutsk reveal that adjustments to the planning process at the local level differ precisely because of post-Soviet demographic processes specific to each city-type: consensus-building in capital cities, de-Sovietization in company towns, and shedding of centralized control in pre-revolutionary towns.

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Iyer, Seema Desai