Library Header Image
LSE Theses Online London School of Economics web site

Narrating the urban in contemporary Budapest

Szanto, Attila (2010) Narrating the urban in contemporary Budapest. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

Download (14MB) | Preview


This explorative study seeks to contribute to an empirically grounded understanding of urban narratives in contemporary Budapest. It argues in favour of the narrative quality of the urban experience and then reconstructs core aspects that affect it: identification with social collectivities, personal memories, the design of the city, and individuals' sense of being at home in it. The thesis shows how these aspects intertwine and jointly shape urban narratives, and in doing so, it argues against the study of any of these aspects in isolation. The thesis draws on twenty in-depth interviews conducted in 2005 and 2006. Interviewees' narratives not only help identify the above mentioned aspects, but are also appreciated for providing insight into themes that govern their urban experiences in Budapest today. Since the late nineteenth century, Budapest has been subjected to six different economic and political regimes, two World Wars and the 1956 uprising. The city has changed again considerably since the end of state socialism in 1989. From a sociological point of view, these are particularly exciting times: urban changes are likely to challenge habitual ways of relating to the city, and individuals' efforts to re-define their narratives can be expected to reveal a great deal about otherwise less obviously manifest aspects that affect these. After introducing the methods of the empirical study and an overview of the history of Budapest, the thesis devotes one chapter to each of the four aspects mentioned above. First, it discusses narratives that contain obvious references to social collectivities, with an emphasis on status to which almost every other interviewee referred. Second, it explores how personal memories affect narratives of Budapest, and pays particular attention to the remembering and forgetting of socialism. Third, it addresses Budapest as a site of weak social control and the related level of individual freedom, and then looks at the interplay between urban form and the lived body. Finally, the thesis reveals the significance of individuals' sense of belonging to the city, and shows how it has been challenged by Budapest's recent changes.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociology, Social Structure and Development, East European Studies
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > Sociology

Actions (login required)

Record administration - authorised staff only Record administration - authorised staff only


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics