Garden Tiger Moth photographed by Gabor Pozsgai ©This site is no longer being updated.

We have retained it as a reference for future research.

Further information

You are here

Contested models of land and property use and social relations: Qualitative explorations

Working Group 19: Contested models of land and property use and social relations: Qualitative explorations

Sam Hillyard [1], Annie McKee [2], Jayne Glass [3], Garry Marvin [4]
1: University of Durham, UK; 2: The James Hutton Institute, UK; 3: The Centre for Mountain Studies, Perth College-UHI, UK; 4: University of Roehampton, UK

The working group will explore the impact of change in property and land use practices upon social relations.  The backdrop is one of considerable rural change.  The focus will be on land use change and its implications in two contexts: the acceptability of single-owner estates in the Scottish policy context and rising criticism over the leisure and ecological practices of large estates in England. 

The working group will take the analytic long-view: social histories of locales, contemporary changes and also future-forecasts.  Have changing property and land use practices encouraged innovation, demographic shifts (both outward and pro-rural) or sedimentation (by choice or default)?  Have supposed reforms enhanced the sustainability of land management practices for the rural populations and their futures (cf. Glass et al., 2013)?  It will explore how extant patterns of land of use have changed significantly and in whose favour (Sutherland, 2012).  It will seek to identify examples of ‘best practice' or innovation that brokers both social and environmental harmony. 

Anticipated papers will explore specific case studies, interrogating questions such as: have regulatory services remained the preserve of the State, or have communities themselves had to become resilient or self-policed?  What have been the key tipping-points effecting change?  To what extent are social practices and interactional performances significant in a global context - is power still exerted at this level?  Has policy reform speeded or contested change? What models are available to owners, visitors and residents?  What fauna is seen as legitimate and sustainable on these landscapes (Buller 2004)?

The anticipated papers will be unified through qualitative research approaches that can capture agency, resistance and the capacity of local-level agents to negotiate and mediate change.  It also embraces the impact of new social media and technologies upon the communication and everyday experiences of rural and urban-associated networks. The approach places a value on the micro-level perspective and also challenges the role of the social scientist researching such sites, including the extent to which the academic researcher can facilitate dialogue in conflictual situations.   


Buller, H. (2004) ‘Where the wild things are: the evolving iconography of rural fauna,' Journal of Rural Studies 20: 131-141.

Glass, J., Price, M., Warren, C. R., & Scott, A. (Eds.). (2013). Lairds, Land and Sustainability: Scottish Perspectives on Upland Management. Edinburgh University Press.

Sutherland, L-A. (2012) ‘Return of the gentleman farmer?: Conceptualising gentrification in UK agriculture.' Journal of Rural Studies 28(4): 568-576.