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Rural Geography: Lecture 11 Changing social imaginations in rural geography Introductions » »Rural social geography there have been shifts in the prevailing.

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Presentation on theme: "Rural Geography: Lecture 11 Changing social imaginations in rural geography Introductions » »Rural social geography there have been shifts in the prevailing."— Presentation transcript:

1 Rural Geography: Lecture 11 Changing social imaginations in rural geography Introductions » »Rural social geography there have been shifts in the prevailing social imaginations within rural geography which have meant that many rual geographers have begun to think what may have been seen previously as unthinkable … [R]ecent years have witnessed a re-examination of earlier foci … [and] a number of new themes are emerging … relating to issues of social identity, difference snd the construction and reception of cultural images of the countryside (Phillips, 1998a, pp )

2 Changing social imaginations in rural geography (continued) Social Imaginations: 1: Social Geographies Of Human Habitation 2: Social Geography as Demography 3: Social Geography as Social Contests 4: Social Geography as Social Equity 5: Social Geographies of Community Life 6: Social Geography as Social Critique 7: Social Geographies of Difference 8: Social Geographies of Identity and Relations

3 Social Imagination 1: Social Geographies Of Human Habitation Cloke (2000: 719) argues that rural geography did not emerge as 'a distinctly demarcated subject area' or sub-discipline until the 1970s Prior to that all human/cultural/social geography had a strong rural component » »See regional geographies of Vidal de la Blache and Carl Sauer » »Focus on the material geographies of rural settlement "the basic contributions are those which seek to describe and map the actual distribution of the rural habitat in specific areas, and show that the distribution both as a fact in itself and in its areal relations to other geographical facts, such as relief and altitude, water supply and drainage, soils and underlying rocks, dominant crops and types of cultivation, roads and other means of communication, density and distribution of population in the area, and sometimes, political boundaries" Fawcett (1939: p. 152)

4 Cloke (2000: 719) argues that rural geography did not emerge as 'a distinctly demarcated subject area' or sub-discipline until the 1970s Prior to that all human/cultural/social geography had a strong rural component » »See regional geographies of Vidal de la Blache and Carl Sauer » »Focus on the material geographies of rural settlement »Rural social geographies focused on the material geographies of where people lived E.g. Branch of social geography focused on "the distribution and form of rural settlements, that is of villages, hamlets, farms and scattered dwellings" (Gillbert and Steel (1946: 118, quoted in Phillips, 1998, p. 124). Social Imagination 1: Social Geographies Of Human Habitation

5 Classicial studies = Demangeon ( ), Thorpe (1964), Roberts (1979) Focus continued with the emergence of positivist space science, although more quantitative and geometric in focus Clear illustration - see Chilsholm Rural settlement and land-use Social Imagination 1: Social Geographies Of Human Habitation

6 Spatial science a peopleless human geography ? "rural landscapes are either deserted of people.... dutifully laying out Christaller's central place networks, doing exactly the right number of hours farmwork in each of Von Thünen's concentric rings, and basically obeying the great economic laws of minimising effort and cost in negotiating physical space" (Philo, 1992, p. 201) » »Williams (1963) called for the adoption of a more 'sociological perspective' to rural settlement and landscape complaining that although "a reasonable amount of information about farming and the rural was available, very little was known about the people who worked the farms. Social Imagination 1: Social Geographies Of Human Habitation

7 Spatial science a peopleless human geography ? "While the distribution of settlements and the geometrics of material landscape elements formed a major constituent of British rural social geography from middle of the century through into the 1970s and beyond, and hence it may reasonably be described as a 'peopleless' geography, it is important to note that there was a series of rural geographies which did very much focus on people (Phillips, 1998a, p. 126) Phillips (1998b) identifies 4 other social geographies in the 1970s: Rural demography Rural resource conflict and management Access to rural services Rural community life Social Imagination 1: Social Geographies Of Human Habitation

8 Social Imagination 2: Social Geography as Demography Social geography = the geography of people Geography = spatial distribution Rural social geography = Changing population levels – rural depopulation, repopulation (population turnaround), population growth Causes of population change Population movement/migration – in and out migration, counter-urbanisation Rationale ? Empirically doable geography ? Connects with 'social concerns' ?

9 Social Imagination 3: Social Geography as Social Contests The countryside as a limited (perhaps declining) resource, but people making increasing demands upon it Social conflicts generated between rural land-users Rural social geography seen as the study of these conflicts and their management Gilg (1985) Introduction to rural geography "The future for rural geography should be an applied one, where it integrates its own research, relates this to the real behavioural world and to policy formation, and thus atte,pts to produce a rural environment that is not only physically attractive but also a lively and prosperous place to live" (p. 266)

10 Social Imagination 4: Social Geography as Social Equity Rural depopulation can lead to removal of services for existing rural residents Counter-urbanisation often seen to result in escalating house prices: "restrictive planning policies cause an upward spiral in house prices; occupancy of houses thereby becomes restricted to those social groups who can afford the new prices" (Cloke et al, 1991, p. 38) No homes for locals Shucksmith (1981) Studies of access to employment, housing, transport, retail outlets, and legal, welfare and leisure facilities. This rural geography 'social' in the sense that it was concerned whether people were getting adequate or equal access to resources or services.

11 Social Imagination 5: Social Geography as Community Life Rural community studies: Sociological and anthropological studies in pre- and post- WWII communities (see Frankenberg, 1956, 1963; Wright, 1992, Harper, 1989) Continued by geographers in the 1960s and 1970s Often drew on notions of gemeinschaft and gessellschaft outlined by Ferdinand Tönnies 'Gemeinschaft – community: "close human relationships developed through kinship.... common habitat and.... co-operation and co-ordinated action for social good" (Harper, 1989, p. 162). 'Gesellschaft'- 'society' or association "impersonal ties and relationships based on formal exchange and contract" in which, "no actions... manifest the will or spirit of.... unity" (Harper, 1989, p ).

12 Social Imagination 5: Social Geography as Community Life o o Tönnies presented the concepts of gemeinschaft and gesellschaft "as themes for analysis" (Harper, 1989, p. 163) rather than as social forms linked to places or periods o o However: » »Is gemeinshaft historical and rural ? » »Gesellschaft modern and urban ? o o Rural-urban continuum » »Gemeinshaft/gesellschaft continuum ? » »Movement along continuum as population changed ? o o "every person counts as part of the social organism and when one dies or leaves the hamlet he [sic] is missed by the whole community, a sense of incompleteness lingers on as though the whole organism had lost a limb" (Rees, 1950, p. 99). o o "Every development that has taken place in parish affairs has emphasised and reflected an urban way of life in various ways. Against this the traditional way of life is static and can offer nothing to replace the loss of community feeling which is a result of these development" (Williams, 1956, p. 203).

13 Social Imagination 6: Social geography as Social Critique o Late 1970s/1980s calls for a 'critical rural studies (See Newby, 1977, 1980; Hoggart, 1987,Cloke, 1989; Phillips, 1994) o Critical = ? »'independent and sceptical attitude towards rural phenomena' (Newby and Buttel, 1982, p. 3). »critical stance towards 'the structure and institutions of rural society' »Look beyond 'the clichéd and subjective experience of … people' »Sociological imagination was 'politically charged: it was prepared to reject the accepted structures, institutions and perceptions of the countryside' (Phillips, 1993, p. 89)

14 Social Imagination 6: Social geography as Social Critique o Focus often on capitalist social relations and institutions, and on the affluent and powerful social groups '[T]he argument was to avoid overly "voluntarist accounts" of human actions, and to recognise the influence of social structures which lay beyond the individual and the discursive. In both human and rural geography, the advocacy of a critical approach was quickly followed by the adoption of a variant of Marxist or neo- Marxist political economy' (Phillips, 1998b, p. 35) o Marxist/neo-Marxist economy became the 'new orthodoxy' »Subject to repeated criticism by 'traditionalists' (see Gilg, 1985; Robinson, 1990) »Phillips (1994) on critical theory which 'supplements' political economy with 'a recognition of the "communicative" aspects of social life".

15 Social imagination 7: Social geographies of difference In 1990s new challenge raised by discussions of postmodernism In 1990s new challenge raised by discussions of postmodernism o Philo (1992) 'Neglected rural geographies' »Argued that 'spatial-scientific' geography was not the only 'people less' human geography: "whether... written in an empirical descriptive vein or proceed from more self-aware theoretical vantages (whether Marxist, political economic, humanistic, phenomenological or whatever) - there remains a danger of portraying British rural people (at least the ones that seem important in shaping and feeling the locality) as all being 'Mr Averages': as being men in employment, earning enough to live, white and probably English, straight and somehow without sexuality, able in body and sound in mind, and devoid of any other quirks of (say) religious belief or political affiliation"(p. 200)

16 Social imagination 7: Social geographies of difference In 1990s new challenge raised by discussions of postmodernism In 1990s new challenge raised by discussions of postmodernism o Philo (1992) 'Neglected rural geographies' »Argued for a 'postmodern sensitivity to difference': 'social life is... fractured along numerous lines of difference constitutive of overlapping and "multiple forms of otherness'" (p. 201) »And 'a heightened sensitivity to rural "others"': ' so that the worlds of all of those people who stands outside of the societal 'mainstream', those who are not male, white, heterosexual, middle class, middle-aged, able-bodied and sound minded, could be brought much more into academic focus (rather than appearing as by products of conventional inquiries into rural economy, society, politics and culture)".

17 Social imagination 7: Social geographies of difference Women of colour and social differentiation through race/racism Women and gender relations Gay and lesbians; sexuality The disabled, and how physical and mental abilities Travellers and mobility

18 Contemporary rural social geography Cloke and Little (1997): o "more recent cultural geographies are being overlaid, palimpsestually, onto existing accounts" (p. 2) "a resurgence in rural studies over recent years, not only as it embraces the 'cultural turn' which is evident in the broader social sciences, but also as it achieves a wider significance …[R[ural studies have bridged over into wider concerns, with considerable intellectual excitement being generated in the process" (Cloke and Little, 1997, p. 1-2). o 'excitement and "fizz"' of contemporary rural (social) geography


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