Agro-Town Regions of Peripheral Europe


The concept of agro-town was elaborated by the geographers to describe a settlement that although it is chiefly populated by farmers and agricultural labourers has the size of a town and often includes urban institutions, urban social strata and functions. Such settlements are surrounded by vast areas of extensively used land which may extend to several tens of thousands of square kilometres. Agro-towns constitute settlement networks in themselves, without or with very few villages. In Europe agro-town regions are found in Andalusia, Southern Italy, Sicily and on the Great Hungarian Plain. In this paper the author makes a detailed study of the Hungarian agro-towns, describing their physical and social structure as well as their life-style and culture, and tracing their development and transformations back to the late Middle Ages. In the concluding chapter the Hungarian agro-towns are compared with their Mediterranean parallels. In spite of apparent differences (e.g. a general 'urbanity' and 'urban ethos' in the Mediterranean, and 'ruralness' in the Hungarian Plain) the paper points out basic similarities in the historic development and social significance of the agro-towns. The similar traits are interpreted as adaptations to more or less analogous situations in the periphery of the European continental division of labor.

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Hofer, T., (1987) “Agro-Town Regions of Peripheral Europe”, Ethnologia Europaea 17(1), 69–95. doi:


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Tamás Hofer (Museum of Ethnography, Budapest)



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