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Dispersed settlement in detached houses: Attitudes over the residential space consumption in Slovenia

Author(s): Hočevar Marjan

Journal: Sociologija
ISSN 0038-0318

Volume: 54;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 123;
Date: 2012;
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Keywords: anti-urbanism | value orientations | ecology | environmentalism | parochial ruralism | sprawl

Public opinion surveys investigating the levels of environmental awareness target the most diverse aspects of environment pollution, but they rarely examine people's attitudes to the ways and forms in which space itself is used or consumed, especially in the context of residential or settlement patterns. This article analyses the connection between the prevailing long-term value orientations about residential preferences in Slovenia, which we associate with an ideology of “anti-urbanism”, and the resulting “schizophrenic” environmental perception, which expresses itself as relatively high declared environmental awareness of people who do not live in a town. Extensive and dispersed use of the physical space (defined as a sprawl) is in general one of the issues of environmental degradation. Dispersion and low settlement density, as well as the connected consumption of physical space in detached houses, is even more rarely addressed as the key issue of the environment problem. The absence of comprehensive “ecologisation” of the ways in which space is consumed for residential purposes in Slovenia is of a structural nature. Its structural captivity is identified on ideological, institutional, planning, and individual levels. Dispersed individualised settlement is critically addressed, but usually seen from the angle of pollution and not as an immanent ecological problem, i.e. the consumption of space as a rare commodity. In surveys on spatial values, we come across the phenomenon that parochial ruralism is equated with environmentalism, something we explain with a schizophrenic environmental perception, when respondents consider living in individual family houses environmentally more acceptable than living in multi-dwelling houses in an urban environment.
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