History, Structure and Perspectives of a Quarter - A Case-Study of the "Schwetzingerstadt" in Mannheim, South West Germany
3. the approach of social scientists and planners due to an elaborated version of the framework of historical materialism emphasizes, when describing and explaining social and spacial processes, the leading role of the sphere of material production. One of the basic statements of this concept points out that every human being (as part of mankind) constituates himself especially and mankind in general through the exchange-process between men and nature which is mediated by human work(11). According to the historic-materialistic viewpoint concepts of town-planning are closely linked with the central planning in the field of material production, its effects and given (as well as changeable) relations according to derived micro-structures of production and reproduction. In such societies which have not yet developed central planning conditions and which are still dominated by principles of social anarchy and individual profit gained by the owner of capital, the acceptance and application of the materialistic-historical approach use to lead to a concept of planning to improve the social und spacial conditions of reproduction of the labour force itself. This specific concept widens the viewpoint of planning itself because it implies a social understanding of space which is defined in socio-economic terms. Moreover, it is able to figure the reality of social dominated by private ownership of production instruments by stressing its own, interior contradictions and the moving forces of society and its dynamics.
Nevertheless there do exist some serious difficulties when transforming this approach into an operative, empirical, and valid framework. Above all a spacial concept which works out both the historical and structural analysis is required. Another difficulty lays in the social fact that there are only data available which have been produced for other purposes and which might lead (whenever uncritically accepted in an analysis guided by an historical-materialistic approach and its empirical framework) to some specific 'bias'(12).
According to the specific aspects and forms of the historical formation and development of the quarter Schwetzingerstadt itself a detailed overview(13) demonstrates not only the different forms of settlement at the territory of the today Schwetzingerstadt including the specific variations and change of the quarter's character since the rniddle ages but illustrates and underlines my basic theses - that it is the social mode of production itself which dominates (however mediated, but, as Frederick Engels has pointed out, 'in the last instance) the way of settlement of groups and individuals even at the level of the microstructure of a quarter.
Whereas this well-known thesis has been until now discussed either in the field of macro-spacial settlement and its development in one state or in more states and territories or in some micro-structural approaches according to the development of towns, especially of the cities, my analysis has to stress the very specifity of the spacial field of a suburban quarter (here demonstrated in the historical case-study of the Schwetzingerstadt): those suburban quarters as analysed by the type of the Schwetzingerstadt as part of the highly industrialized region of Mannheim and Rhein-Neckar used to constituate a spacial concentration ('seam-place') which features the typical structures of different historical and social formations and periods. Empirically in its real appearance these different types of settlement as created by different modes of production do exist side by side on the same small territory and mediate each other.