Wüstungen – zur potentiellen Renaissance eines historischen Phänomens
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Regressive changes in the settlement patterns are attended by decline, a decay of the cultural landscape and the contraction of the settlement frontiers. These processes can be observed in all ages of the settlement history and can be judged as a consistent and pervasive trend. However, lost settlements are perceived first and foremost as phenomenon of the late middle ages. But the research about deserted villages becomes relevant again. There are recent desettlement processes due to increasing regional disparities and the second demographic transition. Some regions suffering from depopulation are in danger to be abandoned. But disparities are not fixed and unchangeable structures. They arise, they can be dissolved, they can be diminished by convergence and they can be intensified by divergent evolutions. This contribution deliberates on the question, if the phenomenon of abandoned settlements becomes relevant again in Germany. The definition of the basic terms „regression“ and „deserted villages“ is followed from an overview about the different reasons of regression processes. Afterwards the recent regression processes are analyzed by bearing in mind their spatial differentiation and the complex interdependency of the mechanisms. Based on considerations about the current sociopolitical and functional significance of the peripheral rural regions required measures are deduced that are suitable for the stabilization of the periphery.
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