Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

SPATIAL SOCIOLOGY: Sustainable Social and Spatial Development of Slovenia in Europe

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
5.03.00  Social sciences  Sociology   
5.02.00  Social sciences  Economics   

Code Science Field
S210  Social sciences  Sociology 
sociology of space, social ecology, sustainable development, quality of life, autopoiesis of spatial identities, preservation of natural and cultural heritage, urban systems, globalisation, new localism, information society, postmodern society, lifestyles, european integration, european urban system.
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (8)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  05858  PhD Andrej Fištravec  Sociology  Researcher  2004 - 2008  381 
2.  12652  PhD Marjan Hočevar  Sociology  Researcher  2004 - 2008  309 
3.  09735  PhD Drago Kos  Sociology  Head  2004 - 2008  562 
4.  01482  PhD Lojze Sočan  Economics  Researcher  2004 - 2008  287 
5.  15319  PhD Franc Trček  Sociology  Researcher  2004 - 2008  333 
6.  22511  PhD Matjaž Uršič  Sociology  Researcher  2004 - 2008  343 
7.  21510  MSc Aleš Verdir  Anthropology  Researcher  2004 
8.  19139  Janja Zvonar    Technical associate  2004 - 2008 
Organisations (3)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0582  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Social Sciences  Ljubljana  1626957  40,391 
2.  0589  University of Maribor, Faculty of Education  Maribor  5089638013  13,247 
3.  2565  University of Maribor Faculty of Arts  Maribor  5089638050  32,994 
Sustainable development requires environmental, economic, and social development to be integrated. Such a development should balance economic growth, social solidarity and environment protection. At the level of principles, the modern developed societies have already reached a high degree of consensus on the necessity of sustainable development. In Slovenia's development documents, sustainable development is one of the basic principles and objectives. Similarly frequent as the discussions on sustainable development is the undiscriminating use of this radical concept. A conceptually well-founded discussion on "sustainable development" is therefore urgently required in order not to ignore the concept's complexity and renovation capacity. Such a discussion is also urgent in order to facilitate granting legitimacy to practical forms of implementing the principles of sustainable development at all levels. The research programme's primary objective is thus to find theoretically substantiated and directly applicative varieties of sustainable development. When interpreting sustainable development, not only empirical facts on the condition of the environment, on reaching and exceeding its absorption capacities, have to be taken into account, but also the motivation capacity of individuals, groups and societies as a whole, including the cognitive as well as value dimension. It is therefore very important to structure these complex ideas and to reach a consensus on the scope and dynamics of introducing sustainable measures at the systemic level and at the level of day-to-day life. From this viewpoint, it is sensible to observe sustainable development simultaneously at three levels: a) analytic, b) normative, and c) strategic. An important quality of such a three-fold approach is the built-in reverse loop between analytical findings and legitimising conditions, and a strategy of long-term operation of the key actors at different levels of social activity which is based on it. The diversity and richness of its spatial qualities are among Slovenia's most significant development opportunities in the European integration and globalisation processes which are currently underway and are expected to further strengthen. At the same time, it is quite obvious that Slovenia's environmental and spatial qualities are threatened precisely as a result of these spontaneous and often poorly managed processes. The basic objective of the research programme is therefore to analyse, evaluate and operationalise the socio-spatial conditions for the optimum use and permanent preservation of Slovenia's environmental and spatial qualities. A well-thought out, institutionalised and simultaneously open and legitimised system of spatial planning and nature protection would enable the country to avoid the most obvious traps of spontaneous social and spatial modernisation. Based on these theoretical premises, the research will focus on the following themes: integration and rationalisation of Slovenia's urban system; the autopoietic nature of spatial identities, the dialectics of local and global processes; the post-modern social constructions of space and the environment; the conditions for the emergence of "open", i.e. participative spatial planning and environment protection; the economy of space and the environment; the optimisation of spatial planning and environment protection; the optimisation of the relationship between the urban, rural, and natural space; equal regional development options; the role of information technology in replacing physical mobility; etc.
Significance for science
Some years ago, sociological circles generally accepted the thesis that that sociology or sociological epistemology was going through a crisis. Many saw the solution in the discipline’s opening up to and linking with other social, humanist, and even natural sciences (Wallerstein, 2000). From its beginnings, spatial and environmental sociology was very widely conceived and strongly connected with border and related social and spatial disciplines. Research results have indicated that the chosen direction is highly promising from the viewpoint of methodology. However, in spite of the explicit, in-principle orientation of research policies, the research environment and the systemic conditions for research do not actually support this optimism. The reasons are manifold and among the most important ones are e.g. the totally unproductive competence disputes between the different disciplines. The low level of differentiation and specialisation of scientific disciplines in Slovenia may be an advantage in this context. Along with their strong integration into the international scientific community from the very beginning, this “differentiation deficit" helped to discover and develop basic integral scientific findings on long-term socio-spatial development processes. Postmodern fragmentation, highlighting the need for integrating various specialist disciplinary approaches, is potentially easier to overcome in environments where personal communication between diverse specialists still exists. The research programme is therefore in line with the current theoretical trends that emphasise the need for integrating many partial ideas and views. Although such integration is actually a “hopeless” undertaking, the ideas of sustainable development will remain utopian without at least partially successful harmonization of diverse disciplinary approaches. Experience has shown that "cross-border” or transdisciplinary cooperation can be quite successful in spite of methodological and organisational difficulties. The ability of postmodern reflection on socio-spatial processes increases in direct proportion to the emergence of a common discussion field. Spatial and environmental sociology is thus turning into a “pioneer” discipline, because “theory and practice” force and direct it towards integration of diverse, more or less intensive spatial and environmental disciplines. Seen from this aspect, an important result of the research work will be the operational structuring of the problem field in a way that will enable to connect cognitive, theoretical and ambitious research with the applicative aspects of the researched issue. A transparent reduction of the research issue is indeed often a difficult obstacle to overcome in sociology and the social sciences in general. Reduction of the very complex concept of sustainable development is however unavoidable if we want to continue research activities and expect them to produce directly useful results. Because of the integrative nature of spatial sociology, its new findings are also of importance to the development of related scientific disciplines dealing with the field of spatial development (urbanism, architecture, geography, regional studies, social science informatics, public administration), and at the same time an advantage of such an approach is the tendency towards applicative scientific findings at different levels of the spatial organisation of society. The emphasis on the analysis of developmentally significant examples of new phenomena of temporal-spatial and socio-spatial organisation in the form of pilot projects reduces the gap between the scientific theoretical level and practical, applicative research activities.
Significance for the country
Through empirical research of the specific modernisation deficit, which in Slovenia shows as an urban deficit, we sought to answer the question whether this specific feature may be turned into a development opportunity for Slovenia. The comparatively lower level of differentiation between the social subsystems, e.g. scientific disciplines, in Slovenia, showed to be an advantage in the course of the development of spatial sociology and contributed to the formation of an integral view of socio-spatial phenomena. Any consensus on the method(s) to achieve the kind of complex social objective sustainable development is soon starts to unravel, in particular because of the huge legitimising difficulties in the operationalisation of implicitly necessary, but quite radical changes. The data gathered and processed through research show that rational social legitimising of interventions in space and the environment is an very demanding enterprise in Slovenia. We therefore paid particular attention in planning the research to three methods of legitimising sustainable development: 1) authority (the state), 2) negotiations (the market), 3) argumentation (participation of civil society). In the present Slovene conditions, the emphasis on legitimising procedures is historically vindicated. Creating the social conditions required to legitimise procedures is actually the most important condition for optimising spatial development and environment protection in Slovenia. It is very important to clarify the criteria and practically implement assessments that will serve as the basis for considering whether concrete spatial projects harmonize with sustainable development. The high degree of vulnerability of the environment in Slovenia, its specific spatial culture, and equally specific historical heritage, constitute severe obstacles to the introduction of participative methods of legitimising when trying to achieve the research objective. The research results which enable us to assess the degree of difficulty to legitimise chosen development variants, are therefore directly applicable to planning and directing spatial development, the urgent rehabilitation of degraded areas, environment protection, and achieving a higher quality of living in Slovenia. Are key research theme are therefore the legitimising conditions required to overcome the “urban deficit” as a fundamental characteristic of Slovenia’s spatial and social development. Researching contemporary spatial identities and value orientations of individuals and groups in this context amounts to providing an adequate database infrastructure. The research results confirm that the preservation of traditional local-regional identities, along with simultaneous support to emerging new spatial identities, is in harmony with the trends of supra-national integration. Such a first sight incompatible practises create the conditions for implementing sustainable development of space, the environment, and nature. As part of the research programme, we carried out a range of concrete empirical researches of space and the environment in Slovenia. We researched spatial mobility, living or housing preferences, the environmental aspects of spatial development, the complementary effects of development and access to the information infrastructure, participative practices in the renovation of degraded areas, the difficulties related to the spatial location of risk technologies, and the postmodern relations between urban and rural spaces. The research into Slovenia’s spatial, traffic problems was conceived comparatively through our participation in a European project of researching sustainable urban mobility.
Most important scientific results Final report, complete report on dLib.si
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Final report, complete report on dLib.si
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