Changing meanings of ‘the rural’ in changing times – What meanings? What actors? What processes? What rural(s)?


Pavel Pospěch, Department of Sociology, Masaryk University, Czech Republic

Elisabete Figueiredo, Department of Social, Political and Territorial Sciences, University of Aveiro, Portugal

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This working group seeks contributions dealing with urban representations as well as with the meanings of local inhabitants regarding the rural and rurality, and with the processes of change they may induce. This addresses a broad field which includes cultural and social representations, political representations, idylls and counter-idylls, visual images and artistic representations and ways of rural marketing and self-marketing aimed at promoting the rural. In the context of the rural, the contributions may also discuss politics and policies and the problem of power and expert knowledge.

The working group seeks to invite contributions which deal, among others, with the following topics:

  • What representations and meanings of the rural are produced by several actors and institutions?
  • What are the conflicting representations and meanings of rurality and how do these conflicts manifest themselves?
  • What values, meanings and expectations towards the rural are implied in rural-oriented policies?
  • What are the visual images associated with rurality and what functions do they serve for their producers?
  • How is the rural reflected and presented to urban populations in art?
  • What are the specifics of the languages that we use when referring to the rural and rurality?
  • What images of the rural are produced by rural marketing and self-marketing?
  • What are the power structures concealed in the imageries and representations of the rural?
  • What are the main consequences for rural areas’ restructuring, deriving from the abovementioned processes (in terms of justice, uneven power relations, rural development...)?


The WG will adopt the ‘classic’ format of paper presentations, followed by discussion among presenters and participants. Papers will be organized by mains topics in order to foster the debate and to make it possible to find common research interests among participants. Each session will take into account diverse perspectives, approaches and empirical evidence from different European countries.

In order to foster the debate among participants, extended abstracts (around 2000 words) will be distributed prior to the conference. Short Abstracts (400 words) should be submitted by 20th December 2016. After acceptance (31 January 2017), authors are expected to submit Extended Abstracts (by the end of June 2017) to be distributed among the WG participants.