Lurralde :inv. espac. N. 4 (1981) p. 29-38 ISSN 1697-3070






© Zbigniew Rykiel





A concept of regional settlement system as connected with a concept of socio-economic region was presented in the paper. Concepts of interstitial and bare-joint areas were also proposed. Development of regional settlement systems is viewed in terms of regional integration or overcoming boundary effect. A model of spatial barriers was presented with an application to a Polish case study. Implications for the Basque-periphery region in Spain was also made.


Se presenta en este ensayo un concepto del sistema de asentamiento regional como conexión con un concepto de región socio-económica. También se proponen conceptos de Áreas intersticiales y núcleos sin ensamblaje. El desarrollo de los sistemas de asentamiento regionales es presentado en términos de integración regional o del superado efecto de límite. Un modelo de barreras espaciales se presenta con una aplicación de estudio al caso polaco. También se hacen algunas implicaciones para la región periférica vasca en España.


This paper was written during the author's extremely short stay in San Sebastián/Donostia. No possibility thus existed to prepare any illustrations nor full references. The objective of the paper is not to show a process of historical development of any particular settlement system but rather to propose some theoretical concepts, ask some questions and point to methods to answer them.

Concept of socio.economic region and regional settlement system

Regional settlement systems are subsystems of national settlement systems. A concept of regional settlement system cannot be, however, separated from a concept of region. In fact there exists a hierarchy of regions, which are comprised in each other. A most distinguished example of region in contemporary European conditions is the state. Adjective «regional» used to be, however, conceptually joint with an intermediate level between national and local. Although existance of a hierarchy of regions implies an existence of ari analogous hierarchy of regional settlement systems, the latter term should be rather joint with such subsystems of a national settlement system within which higher-order central-place functions (i.e. those connected with human life cycle longer than daily) are relatively closed. In this way it is possible to distinguish regional from local systems (Z. Rykiel, A. Zurkowa, 1979).

Economic region is a part of real economic time-space, relatively closed as far as.relations characteristic of the region are concerned. Region is thus homogeneous .as far as relations characteristic of it are concerned. Similarly, social region is a part of social time-space. Socio-economic region is therefore a part of real, objective socio-economic time-space.


Socio-economic tlme-space is an integrated set of socio-economic space and time. Space is a set of certain elements, such that certain relations (geometric or abstract) between the elements are fixed. Socio-economic space is therefore a set of social and economic elements and relations between them and/or their characteristics. Time is a set of certain consecutive events. Socio-economic time is therefore an ordered set of social and economic events (R. Domañski 1965. K. Dziewonski 1967. Z. Rykiel 1978).

Region is a vectoral, i.e. nodal entity. It means that a region can be represented as a centre (central place) and its zone of influence. A concept of regional settlement system cannot be therefore separated from a concept of regional centre. A concept of regional centre is closely connected with the central place theory. According to the theory, a regional centre is a centre which performs regional functions. Detailed identification of regional functions is not, however, obvious because of their historical, i.e. spatial and temporal-variation.

A regional centre is a town which performs central-place functions of a relatively high order. However identification of endogenic and exogenic urban functions depends on a hierarchicallevel of an analysis concerned, the distinction is therefore relative (W. Maik 1976). Thus, identification of central-place and specialized functions is relative as well. A specialized regional function on a national scale can be a central-place function when internal structure of a region is concerned, and vice versa. In the case of regional centres higher-order functions, which are characteristic of those centres, are both central-place functions (i.e. those of a high order) and specialized functions as they occur in relatively few places, and therefore are not typical for an urban system as a whole. In another paper bythe present author a discussion is presented that implies that a strict conceptual analogy exists between regional settlement system and functional urban region concepts (Z. Rykiel, A. Zurkowa, 1979).

Development of regional settlement systems

Region is a historical entity so regional settlement systems should be investigated dynamically. i.e. as they work and chage. Region-creating role, or centrality of a regional centre in a given point of time depends not so on its functions currently performed but rather on how long the functions has been performed (or for how long and how long time ago they did). Such straight-Iine relations between the elements used to be disturbed during revolutionary changes in socio-economic (and settlement) system. In European history it was the industrial revolution which changed considerably settlement systems. In Polish history resettlement and socialist industrialization after the World War II played also their role.

Two concepts can be useful when investigate regional settlement systems. They are imerstitial area and bare-joint area. The central place theory implies that zone of influence of already existing regional centres are circles around these centres. Between three centres an interstice, or gap, exists which cannot be successfully attended from none of the centres. A new regional centre has therefore to be developed of which the interstitial replacement is characteristic (J. MarshaI1973). An interstitial area is thus a part of geographical space which, because of its poorly developed settlement, can be hardly attended on a regional

level from any existing regional centre. It occurs frequently to interstitial areas to be placed near international or interregional boundaries.

Bare-joint areas also used to be placed near a boundary. The term itself. taken from engineering. suggests that neither interstice exists between zone of influence of individual regional centres nor an overlapping zone. Respective zones are therefore already developed but a considerable boundary effect can be observed.

Existing patterns of regional influence used to be strengthen by political and/or administrative division that follow. Administrative divisions. if they are durable. influence strongly spatial patterns of tertiary interrelationships (mainly in the public sector which however, in centrally planned economies is rather extended) as well as human regional consiciousness.

New regional centres which are being developed in interstitial areas tend to organize their own zones of influence. A new developing region attracts and annexes parts fo individual «old» regions. A new developing region is therefore a bare-joint area with its individual parts different from each other as far as their socio-economic structure. interrelationships and regional consciousness of peopie are concerned. In the new regional framework a reorientation of spatial patterns of interrelationships is being done. It is new investments projects that are original factor of the reorientation. The projects involve expansion of the local labour market and in effect commuting to work and migration. The moves of population stimulate more intensive social contacts within the new regional framework. The new regional patterns comprise also human consciousness. the latter is, however, very inert and needs a long time to be changed. Before a social integration in new regional framework is obtained. social conflicts between natives of individual parts of a new region. as well as between natives and .newcomers have to be overcome.

Therefore investigations of integration play an important role when analyzing development of settlement systems. Unseparable. although by no means the only element of the question of integration is analysis of boundary effect.

A Polish case study: Katowice region

The modern history of the Polsh settlement system can be viewed as a process of reintegration. During the industrial revolution Polish territory was devided between three political powers. for a hundred years (1815-1914) the boundaries between the powers were stable (the only change concerned the Commonwealth of Cracow. annexed to Austria in 1846), economic development in individual parts of the country went therefore their own ways. In addition to united Poland of 1918, regained territories on the west were obtained in 1945. As far as pattern of economic development, and social and demographic structure are concerned the Polish territory comprises therefore four zones: post-Russian, post-Austrian. post-Prussian, and regained after the war. The Katowice region, defined either as commuting shed. functional urban region or administrative unit of a provincialleve1 (voivodship), is composed of parts of the four historical zones. A conurbation of 14 large and a number of smaller towns, which as a whole performs regional functions. extends itself in the four zones as well.


Coal mining and steel metalurgy are main sectors of the economic base of the conurbation and region. Modern industrial expansion began in the Prussian part of the area, or Upper Silesia. in 1840s while in the Russian part, or Dabrowa

.Basin. as well as in Austrian, or West-Cracow District. was some 50 years behind. Upper Silesia. as more developed. attracted labour from the two other areas so that permanent but mostly seasonal migration developed. Labour force from the two non-Silesian territories was generally poorer and thus likely to accept even less advantageous job conditions. Competition between individual groups on the labour market underlay potential social conflicts. Other elements in the potential conflict concerned differences in attitudes (Silesians had traditionally higher culture of work, undefined relation to the Polish statehood, and were socially coservative). Silesian labour force as more skilled. tended to emigrate to more developed industrial areas of Prussia. viz. ti Westfalia an Rhineland. On the other hand expansion of Silesian capital to industry of Dabrowa Basin made the later area economically dependent on Silesia. When economic recessions occured, they effected this area more acute than Upper Silesia.

In 1922 a part of Upper Silesia joint Poland. Integration between this area and the other two was not. however, as strong as it could be. As an autonomous area within Poland Silesia was an economic and social region. Because of the recession it could hardly expand and integrate other areas. According to international treaties the Polish part of Upper Silesia was still strongly connected with the German part (in several cases the state boundary separated enterprises from the respective towns). Therefore in this particular area no differentiation has grown between the post-Prussian and regained zones.

Economic integration became easier after 1945 when Upper Silesia and D?browa Basin were united within one administrative unit which since 1975 has been joint also by West-Cracow District.

After 1945 resettlers from the territories ceded to the USSR came to this area, especially to Upper Silesia from where majority of German population was resettled. AII this made regional population more mixed which originally might underlay potential social conflicts but then. as an effect of strong industrialization, made regional integration easier.

Economic integration is but a background of social integration. How ever. a difference must be stressed between social integration in spatial and interpersonal aspects, respectively. Any social integration occurs in space, however spatial integration is but a necessary. and not sufficient condition for interpersonal integration. Spatial integration exists if given social groups under investigation do share common territory although there can exist no interrelationships betwee(1 them. Notwithstanding its weaknesses a concept of spatial integration might be usefur as it allows to use geographic methods of investigation which usually base on spatially aggregated data. If the findings, however. are to be of any significance. spatial units of analysis should not be too large.

The problem was to investigate how much integrated are the three historically based zones of the Katowice region into one regional system. An investigation concerning migration and commuting to work was presented in this paper. Further steR of this investigation would comprise analysis of interzonal marriage links. which is especially welcome by sociologists as an indicator of a social integration. Analysis of regional consciousness would be another step of this analysis. No investigations in the respective field has been done so far, hypothesis.

however, is that as far as regional consciousness is concerned the region is still on the ver:y beginning of its integration. Natives of respective parts of the region seem to recognize themselves as Silesians, Basiners and Cracovians, respectively. Out of the region a common notation of «Silesia" and «Silesians" works, however, as regarding the whole region. Numerous immigrants from outside bring this notation to the region with themselves.

Model of spatial barriers

Distance decay models are basic models for geography. They are based on an assumption that interactions in space are negatively dependent on distance. Existence of spatial barriers causes, however, that actual pattern of interactions are different than regular, optimal or most probable. A first step to evaluate an influence of a spatial barrier is to find a form of a function which fit a given type of interactions. For migration and commuting in Poland a gravity model can be taken. The procedure is to find parameters of the regressive gravity modelfor interactions within a zone which is assumed not to be devided by boundaries, and then adopt the equation with the stimated parameters to interactions across the barrier. In this way theoretical interactions across the boundary are being estimated. A comparison of the actual and theoretical interactions gives information on a reducing role of the spatial barrier (R. Domanski 1970). In this investigation towns within the three zones were taken as basic analytical units.

Let us provide the procedure in more details. There is a set of n objects. Elements of the set are characterized by a vector Pi, (Pi= Pj)' while relations between the elements are described by two matrices: a matrix of actual reJationships Iji, and a distance matrix Dji (Dji= Dij).

Imput is as follows: 

1. matrix Iji -square, non-symmetrical, with zeros on the main diagonal; origins of the flows in the head of the matrix, destinations -in the side; column of the matrix are therefore vectors of the flows;

2. vector (column) of .the destination city size, Pi; 

3. distance matrix between the cities, Dji -square, symmetrical, with zeros on the main diagonal.

The matrix of actual relationships, Iji, is treated asa set of column vectors. It is important to devide the set n into subsets (zones), i. e. vectors into subvectors and, as a result, the matrix I into submatrices.

(1) log tji = log Wj + bj log Pi -Cj log Dji, where: Wj, bj, Cj -parameters of the equation.


Reproduccion de texto

each other as far as interurban migration is concerned. It is only DabroWa Basin which is relatively most open for out-migrants.

Table 1. Boundary effect between three ZoneS of the Katowice region as reflected by migration, 1978. Actual relationships as a percentage of theoretical.


  Up.S. D.B.  W.C.D. 
Up.S.  - 12,8  1,3  
D.B.  4,5 -  0,9
W.C.D.  0,7 13,9 -

Up.S. -Upper Silesia; D.B. -DabroWa Basin; W.C.D. -West-CraCOW District; arroW indicates direction of floWS.

Table 2. Boundary effect between three ZoneS of the Katowice region as reflected by commuting to work, 1973. Actual relationships as a percentage of theoretical.

  Up.S. D.B.  W.C.D. 
Up.S.  - 1,7 0,4
D.B.  12,6 - 0,2
W.C.D. 12,1 6,1 -

The modej was also analyzed for data disaggregated by sex, age and education level. A finding is that a rather different pattern is obtained for females; it is West-Cracow District that is most open in this case (28,2 and 23,9%, respectiveIy). In case of the tertiary educated it is only Upper Silesia that is relatively closed for out-migrar1ts; interrelationships originating in the other tWO ZoneS aCCOUnted for 24 to 60 per cent of potential relationships; the boundary effect is therefore rather weak. Other education level groups had their patterns similar to figures for total population. It is alSO valid for foUr age groups analyzed.

A model for total commuting (Table 2) Shows similar figures, hoWeVer in this case it is Upper Silesia which is relatively most open for out-commuters. A somewhat different pattern is obtained for females where the relation between Upper Silesia and West-CraCOW District is inverted. i.e. the latter is more open for out-commuters than the former.

The information obtained from the model is to be treated with certain caution. In a highly industrialized region, especially in conurbation, where the laboUr market is spatially extended, no necessity exists to Commute to work as it is obtainable on the spot. Migration patterns are, on the contrary. connected, on this spatial scale of analysis, with spatial pattern of housing. Housing conditionS in individual ZoneS were not much different, So interurban migration streams were not large. either. On the other hand, hoWeVer, the information provided by


the model is a relation between actual interzonal flows as compared to theoretical flows if they followed intra-zonal patterns. In this respect interzonal boundary effect in theregion under investigation does exist although the model provides little information on actual social integration.

A Spanish case study: Basque-periphery region

Bare-joint areas can be easily found in numerous European countries.The most obvious Spanish case seems to be the Basque-periphery region. understood as a zone of regional influence of Bilbao. If one followed provincial boundaries. the region would consist of three parts: three provinces of the Basque Country. Navarre. and three provinces of Old Castile. Santander. Logroño and Burgos (M. Ferrer, A. Precedo), however it is open for discussion if the south part of the Burgos province. i.e. the Aranda area, really belongs to this region. No analysis of this region can be made here. What can be made is to ask some questions to be answered

1. What has been regional economic development of the region since the industrial revolution?

2. Has a common regional labour market been formed? 3. What was a role of migratory movements?

4. What was a role of social differences, i.e. in language. attitudes" historical traditions?

5. How stable were interegional boundaries and how important they were for interpersonal communication?

6. What are commuting and migration sheds of main regional centres? 7. How strong interrelationships are between these regional centres?

8. How strong are links between individual parts of the region as far as mixed marriages are concerned?

9. How much is the region integrated as far as regional consciousness is concerned? Do people recognize themselves:

a) on a provincial background (Santand~rians. Alavi. Vizcayans etc;) b) on a historical background (Castilians, Navarrans. Basques), c) on a linguistic bac,kground (Basques. non-Basques),

d) on a new regional background (natives of the Basque-periphery region)?

10. What are probable paths of further evolution of the areaas an economic and social region?

It is believed by the present author that Spanish colleagues will help to understand these problems which by no means are of merely scientific importance.



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