Mobilities, gender, racial and other social inequalities in rural Europe


Natasha Webster, Stockholm University, Sweden

Renata Blumberg, Montclair State University, NJ, USA

Renato Miguel do Carmo, University Institute of Lisbon (CIES-IUL), Portugal, on behalf of the RSG "Southern and Mediterranean Europe" 

Rosario Sampedro, University of Valladolid, Spain, on behalf of the RSG "Southern and Mediterranean Europe" 

Susanne Stenbacka, Uppsala University, Sweden

Theresia Oedl-Wieser, Federal Institute for Less-Favoured and Mountainous Areas, Vienna, Austria

Mathilde Schmitt, agrigenda, Innsbruck, Austria



Diversity is intensifying at different speeds and intensities in all spheres of life as a result of increased mobility and flexibility in the working sphere (multi-local families, transnational migration for work), precarious professional biographies, individualization with its opportunities and risks, seeking refuge as a consequence of violent conflicts, and the still unequal distribution of income, house/ care work between men and women. Globalization, changing migration patterns such as the 2015 refugee crisis and the deep impact of economic crisis of 2008 in some European rural spaces (namely in Southern countries) are producing new forms of social inequalities strongly related with gender, race, age, class, etc. that deserve to be analyzed using new theoretical and methodological perspectives.

Rural spaces are typically absent from popular debates about race/racism, difference, and belonging in contemporary Europe, which confine the so-called “crisis of multiculturalism” to ethnically diverse cities. Many questions arise when dealing with the understanding of inequalities concerning men and women, different generations, locals and newcomers, and about the concept of intersectionality as a convincing tool to grasp several social categories and focus their interactions. This session will be a space to engage this emerging field of study through a transnational lens by highlighting multiple knowledges and experiences of rural change.

On the other hand, a lot of questions arise about the local authorities’ room to maneuver to manage these new challenges and their role in fighting inequalities and social exclusion and transforming social diversity into a valuable element of community life.

This session invites papers exploring but not limited to the following questions: What sort of social inequalities are arising in relation with rural mobilities and access to work and life opportunities? What are the specific ethnic and gender dimensions of these inequalities?   What hinders/enables the consideration of race/racism, gender and other inequalities as analytical concepts? How can we navigate diverse barriers to explore and make connections between manifestations of multiple inequalities in diverse rural contexts? What is the significance of the rural in constituting racial/ethnic divisions embedded in national and other representations? Are there differences between the various European regions and countries?


This session will follow a paper and discussion format, with a discussant reviewing the papers in advance. Specific sessions will be dedicated to the discussion of social processes concerning social inequalities (gender, race, age, class and other social features) linked to rural mobilities across rural Europe with a comparative perspective, and to the theoretical and methodological issues concerning analytical tools to grasp diversity and social inequalities in rural studies. Finally, in a follow-up session we aim to discuss and elaborate conclusions and future research needs with the audience.

The convenors will give comments on papers submitted before the conference.