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Local responses to changed circumstances: Coalmining in the market economy in Upper Silesia, Poland


It is argued that the emphasis of much recent research into coalmining has been placed on international and national scale influences which affect coalfields as a whole; change at the intra-coalfield scale has received less attention. After providing a background to events in Poland during communism, attention focuses on developments since 1989, commencing with coalfield-wide influences. There follows an examination of the work of the state body Państwowa Agencja Węgla Kamiennego, which executes government policy at the local level, and whose membership is drawn from the coalfield region. This agency recommends the closure and amalgamation of mines, but otherwise rationalisation measures are left to the seven mining companies and the colliery managers. The restructuring which has been carried out is considered under five heads: organisational change within the collieries, employment, production and technical change, and ecological adjustment. While recognising the importance of the socioeconomic and political environment and geology, there is much evidence to suggest that intra-coalfield patterns are strongly determined by local decision-makers.

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Riley, R., Tkocz, M. Local responses to changed circumstances: Coalmining in the market economy in Upper Silesia, Poland. GeoJournal 48, 279–290 (1999).

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  • coalmining
  • communism
  • local decision-making
  • market economy
  • Poland
  • Upper Silesia