Object structure

Rozważania na temat klasyfikacji małych miast – przegląd podejść badawczych i próba klasyfikacji wielokryterialnej = The classification of small towns – a review of research approaches and an attempt at multi-criteria classification


Przegląd Geograficzny T. 94 z. 2 (2022)


Bański, Jerzy (1960– ) : Autor ORCID


Bański, Jerzy (1960– ) : Instytut Geografii i Przestrzennego Zagospodarowania im. S. Leszczyckiego PAN



Place of publishing:


Date issued/created:



24 cm

Subject and Keywords:

small town ; functional structure ; classification ; typology ; local development


Classifications and typologies of small towns are a popular subject for research and debate among geographers, planners and sociologists. The basic aim of this paper being to discuss and assess different classifications and research approaches to small towns that take their social and economic functions into account, as well as relations with surrounding areas. However, the very concept of the small town poses certain problems, not least because definitions generally simplify down to the criterion of population size. Depending on the country, the size criterion differs and is generally in the range 5000-25,000 inhabitants. The subject literature typically includes three types of approach to the classification of small towns: 1) the structural, 2) the location-related, and 3) the mixed. The structural approach allows for the grouping of towns from the point of view of the social, cultural and economic functions they discharge. The location-related approach draws on the idea of there being a continuum between the centre and the periphery, with significance therefore attached to the location of a given small urban centre vis-à-vis large centres undergoing development to the greatest extent. A mixed classification making simultaneous use of the different approaches to research brings the most information to bear in regard to categories of urban locality, but their results may therefore prove hard to interpret, given the more-complex research procedure and number of possible classes, categories or types. Bearing in mind the approaches to classification, it is possible to propose a synthetic method for classifying small towns that takes account of economic structure, location and the relationship between the towns and their surroundings. In the case of economic structure, the small centres may be divided into two basic groups – those featuring a multi-branch structure and those that are specialised economically. A second element of the classification reflects the locations of urban centres. Two basic types can be identified – the small town within the range of impact of a large agglomeration or else the town outside such areas, which is to say located peripherally. The third component of the classification arises out of small towns’ relations with their surroundings - 1) local centres or 2) supra-local centres. In consequence, it is possible to indicate 8 types of small town.


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doi:10.7163/PrzG.2022.2.2 ; 0033-2143 (print) ; 2300-8466 (on-line) ; 10.7163/PrzG.2022.2.2


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Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization of the Polish Academy of Sciences

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Central Library of Geography and Environmental Protection. Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization PAS

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Programme Innovative Economy, 2010-2014, Priority Axis 2. R&D infrastructure ; European Union. European Regional Development Fund





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