The Challenges of Contemporary Rural Living, University of Leicester, Thursday, 07. November 2019

Popular images of life in the countryside have long presented it as idyllic and unchanging, but as this event will demonstrate, the contemporary UK countryside faces significant challenges linked to changes in its social character and associated exclusions and tensions. Processes such as gentrification have both transformed the social composition of rural areas and fostered social displacements and tensions. These transformations and impacts intersect in complex ways with a series of demographic changes, including shifting in patterns of lifecourse (e.g. retirement, pre-retirement, youth) migration, rising household break-up and reformulation, heightened international migration and new streams of internal migration. Such changes both create new housing needs and are impacted by current housing provisions, producing a series of new and often poorly recognised challenges. There have also been shifts in the balance between migration and commuting, with the latter increasing in spatial extent as a consequence of declines in the former. Such changes raise major infrastructural and environmental challenges, including heightened CO2 per capita emissions, which has also stemmed from declining rural service provision increasing both travel distances to access the necessities of everyday living (e.g. food, fuel, health services and money) and reliance on private transport. Concerns have been raised about the social impacts of changes in the mobilities of everyday rural life, including their relations to issues of fuel poverty, social deprivation and isolation. Claims have frequently been made about the potential of both local community action and digital technologies to address these and other challenges of contemporary rural living, but evidence has also shown that the development of these are often conditioned by existing relations of social inequality, representation and power, and hence they often act to reinforce rather than challenge existing problems of rural living.

Thursday, 07. November 2019, University of Leicester, The Challenges of Contemporary Rural Living

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