Staying in the Rural: contemporary life course related senses of belonging, mobility and rural community participation
STAYin(g)Rural is a three-year international project (2019-22) which investigates why and how people stay in rural areas at different stages of their lives. It acknowledges that different types of mobilities influence staying decision-making processes.
The project aims to explore:
- How senses of rural belonging and daily life and virtual mobilities relate to contemporary processes of staying in rural areas, and
- How processes of staying and community participation come about and are performed in different geographical contexts (Northern Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany), at different life stages (young adulthood, couple and family formation, and post-retirement) and for different generations.
Building on prior research and identified knowledge gaps, STAYin(g)Rural addresses four research questions –
RQ1: Which stayer types and staying processes can be identified at different life stages, for different generations and in different rural geographical contexts?
RQ2: What are the roles of different types of belonging, rootedness, and peer and family influences in the processes of rural staying? Can ‘cultures of staying’ be identified?
RQ3: How do daily life mobilities, virtual mobilities and connections with leavers and other places enable staying?
RQ4: How do stayers participate in and contribute to rural community life? How does this relate to their senses of belonging to the rural and their social networks in the rural?
The study includes three case study locations:
Clogher Valley (County Tyrone, Northern Ireland)
East Groningen (the Netherlands)
Sudharz (Lower Saxony, Germany)
The Principal Investigators are –
Aileen Stockdale (Queen’s University Belfast)
Tialda Haartsen (University of Groningen, the Netherlands)
Annett Steinführer (von Thunen Research Institute, Germany)
The research team comprises –
Sara Ferguson (Post-doc, Queen’s University Belfast)
Henk Hofstede (PhD candidate, University of Groningen)
Franziska Lengerer (PhD candidate, von Thunen Research Institute)
Jonathan Hanna (PhD candidate, Queen’s University Belfast)
Impact of Research
STAYin(g)Rural will contribute to the conceptual understandings of staying in a rural context and acknowledges the contributions of stayers to contemporary rural community life. The project seeks to develop a typology of contemporary rural stayers and staying processes and map the influences, decision-making processes, and contributions to rural communities to different stayer types. Spatial variations within the ‘rural’ will also be reported. Central to the project is recognition that mobility and immobility are no longer separate processes, but instead are intricately entangled.
The project will be of benefit to public and policy beneficiaries including rural residents, rural community representatives, and local and regional rural policy-makers. The project includes three national steering groups (comprised of case study area policy and community representatives) and will culminate with an international policy event (to include national steering group participants) and local case study specific seminars (involving residents and public policy and community representatives). Such events will consider the impacts of the study’s findings, provide stakeholder networking opportunities to share good practice, and increase awareness of similarities and differences between the study areas and different ‘rural’ types.
Major grants and funding
This project is funded by:
UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).
German Research Foundation (DFG).
Stockdale, A and Ferguson, S (2020) Planning to stay in the countryside: the insider advantages of young adults from farm families. Journal of Rural Studies 78: 364-371. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2020.06.029
Stockdale, A and Haartsen, T (2018) Editorial: Putting rural stayers in the spotlight. Population, Space & Place. https://doi.org/10.1002/psp.2124
Haarsten, T and Stockdale, A (2018) S/elective belonging: how rural newcomer families with children become stayers. Population, Space & Place. https://doi.org/10.1002/psp.2137
Stockdale, A; Theunissen, N and Haartsen, T (2018) Staying in a state of flux: A life course perspective on the diverse staying processes of rural young adults Population, Space and Place. https://doi.org/10.1002/psp.2139).
The research team also regularly present at international academic conferences.
Aileen Stockdale (Queen’s University Belfast)
Aileen’s expertise is in the changing demography of rural areas. Her specific interests focus on rural mobility (in-, out-, retirement, and return migration) and immobility (staying), the associated decision-making processes, and socio-economic consequences for rural communities. Her research includes strong life course and gender perspectives.
Tialda Haartsen (University of Groningen, the Netherlands) https://www.rug.nl/staff/t.haartsen/
Tialda’s research expertise is in the fields of cultural geography, concepts of place meanings, attachment and belonging in relation to mobility and immobility. She has a particular interest in rural in-, out- and return migration, especially at young adult and union and family formation life stages. Tialda has undertaken research into rural staying, rural representations and place meanings, the effects of depopulation on rural services, facilities and residents’’ quality of life, community participation and citizen initiatives.
Annett Steinführer (von Thunen Research Institute, Germany) https://www.thuenen.de/en/lr/staff/scientific-staff/dr-annett-steinfuehrer/
Annett’s expertise is in the socio-spatial impacts of population decline, ageing in rural settlements and community coping strategies. She has completed studies on the household decision-making involved in moving and staying. She has a particular interest in the socio-demographic transitions affecting rural communities and how these can lead to inter-rural and regional disparities.
Sustainable Development Goals
SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities.
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