Inner Territory and What Lies Behind It: An Inquiry Into the Hungarian Urban Hierarchy in 1930
Gergely Károly Bán
University of Debrecen
The study of the emergence of the Hungarian urban hierarchy raises a number of methodological questions concerning the complex settlement structure and the unique urban development of the Carpathian Basin. Research on the Hungarian urban hierarchy reveals a strong positive correlation between the position of the cities in the hierarchy and the complexity of their urban functions. The aim of my inquiry is to provide a complex picture of the Hungarian urban hierarchy of the 1930s, or, more precisely, the potential hierarchies. I approach this issue from various perspectives. As there are different definitions of cities in judicial (administrative), statistical, economic, sociological, and geographical contexts, the questions remain open: what do we consider a city, and what makes a settlement a city in the interwar period in Hungary? One of the cornerstones of my research is the issue of the outskirts. In administrative terms, we can speak about a unit, but due to the differing patterns of urban development in Hungary, the relationship between the core territory and its periphery is complex. Since the classic homestead theory has been challenged, hierarchical investigations have had to address the problems involved in dividing the data between urban cores and urban peripheries. Hierarchic rankings based on the incorporation of outskirts are quite different from rankings which omit the latter zones, which tend to be dominated by scattered farms not linked functionally to the urban core. The differences also show strong regional patterns. This study, based on statistical data, tries to highlight these differences in the urban hierarchy using this new approach. This way, it becomes possible to put the study of the Hungarian urban hierarchy in the interwar period on a new methodological footing which differs in several significant ways from the foundations of earlier research on the subject in Hungary.
Keywords: periphery issue, settlement structure, urban hierarchy, Hungarian urban network, historical geography.