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Migration and rural social change

Working Group 8: Migration and rural social change

Ruth McAreavey [1], Thomas Dax [2], Teresia Odel-Wieser [3], Ingrid Machold [3], Neil Argent [4]

1: Queen's University Belfast, UK; 2: Federal Institute of Less-Favoured and Mountainous Areas, Austria; 3: Federal Institute of Less-Favoured and Mountainous Areas, Austria; 4: University of New England, Australia

Co-Conveners: Menelaos Gkartzios, Newcastle University,; Leif Jensen, Penn State University,; Daniel T. Lichter, Cornell University,

This WG aims to examine the interrelationships between demographic change and political/social change in rural areas. Particularly, it seeks to explore migration patterns and experiences, the impacts on communities of destination and the shifting politics and development narratives associated with mobility of certain groups to rural areas. We invite papers that explore contemporary demographic change, internal and international migration patterns and processes in varied rural contexts.

Rural areas are dynamic places being continuously reconfigured and reconnected with other areas (both rural and urban). Additionally rural residents change across time and space due to a range of factors including migration processes, fertility behavior, family and household structures and living arrangements. Also for internal migration processes certain aspects are widely debated among scholars, particularly those regarding the relocation of an urban middle class to the countryside in search of better quality of life (rural gentrification, amenity migration). But recent global financial crises have resulted in spatial re-valuation and new patterns of mobility.

The recent uptick in international migration has meant that migrants across the globe are no longer confined to traditional migrant gateways. Unlike the past, new immigrant groups are increasingly settling in so-called `new` destinations, many of these are peripheral or predominantly rural in nature. These phenomena imply substantial socio-economic and cultural changes in these areas that also have implications for the interrelation between areas and spatial structures more generally. For instance population losses caused by low birth rate and a negative internal migration balance have for a long time characterized many rural communities. However the positive inflow of people with foreign citizenships can significantly mitigate, if not compensate, the emigration numbers in some areas.

Paper proposals are invited to deal with the following focus areas:

  • Amidst the growing complexity and intensity of population movements and associated population structural change, many rural areas are struggling to meet the challenges of catering for, inter alia, ageing and socio-economically disadvantaged populations. Papers that present informed, current perspectives on the changing demographic face of rural areas in these troubled contexts are welcome.
  • Demographic changes accentuate the tendencies towards an increase in social diversity in rural communities. The focus on a potential-oriented perspective may provide incentives for new ideas and innovative activities for regional policies. Papers regarding the performance of a fruitful living together (good and bad practice) and the relevance of institutional actor networks and governance structures (oriented at an environment of “welcoming communities”) are particularly welcome.
  • Contributions are welcome that touch upon theoretical, socio-historical and/or research issues associated with the quality of life in rural areas which experience the settlement of immigrant groups and ethnic groups.
  • We welcome contributions that examine how new socio-economic transformations arising from contemporary demographic change including migration processes provide opportunities and/or challenge rural communities. Papers may address the role of crisis phenomena within cities in providing new (and perhaps conflicting) constructions of the countryside across (new and established) residents and policy makers. Submissions are welcomed that explore the complexity of factors that influence migration and these rural transformations, inter-group relationships, and social incorporation or integration.

We welcome critical explorations of the limitations of existing theories and proposals that provide new ways of framing modern migration and demographic behaviour. Contributions providing empirical evidence are also welcomed as are papers examining the implications for rural communities and connections to society and public policy.