The British countryside is a national institution; most people aspire to live there, many people use it for leisure and recreation and we can all watch rural life played out on our television screen, read about it in novels or consume its imagery in art and cinematography. The aim of this book is to explore the way that these aspirations and perceptions influence the way that the term "rural" is interpreted across different academic disciplines. Definitions of rural are not exact, leaving room for these interpretations to have a significant impact on the meanings conveyed in different areas of research and across different economic, social and spatial contexts.
In this book contributors present research across a range of subjects allowing critical reflections upon their personal and disciplinary interpretations of "rural". This resulting volume is a collection of diverse chapters that gives an emergent sense of how the notion of "rural" changes and blurs as the disciplinary lens is adjusted. In drawing together these strands, it becomes clear that human relations with rural space morph materiality into highly complex representations wherein both disadvantage and social exclusion persist within a rurality that is also commodified, consumed and cherished.
1. Introduction and official/statistical definitions, Gary Bosworth and Peter Somerville Part 1 Material Rurality 2. Challenging Western perceptions: a case study of rural Zambia, Juliana Siwale 3. Economic approaches to the rural, David Gray 4. The potential for rural co-operatives in the UK, Ignazio Cabras 5. Rural parishes and community organisation, Rebecca Herron, Jennifer Jackson and Karen Johnson Part 2 Represented Rurality 6. English historical perspectives on rurality: viewing the country from the city, Andrew Walker 7.Pits, pylons and posts: writing under the English rural idyll, Catherine Parry 8. A place for grazing livestock in defining rurality?, Stephen Hall 9. A case study in the literary construction of the rural idyll: the English Farm, Rupert Hildyard 10. Horncastle brass band: revising the banding myth from the edges of rurality, Sue Frith Grau Part 3 Contested Rurality 11. Dairy farming and the fight for ownership of the concept ‘rural’, Alison Moore 12. Contested attitudes towards wildlife in Britain, Sue Bestwick 13. Changing social relations in the English countryside: the case of housing, Peter Somerville 14. Rural crime and policing , Angus Nurse 15. Gypsies and Travellers in modern rural England, Margaret Greenfields Part 4 Consumed Rurality 16. Capitalising on rurality: Tourism micro-businesses in rural tourism destinations, Clare Haven-Tang and Eleri Jones 17. Ageing in rural communities: from ‘idyll’ to ‘exclusion’?, Wesley Key 18. The rural public house: cultural icon or social hub?, Claire Markham Part 5 Conclusions 19. Interrogating rural coherence, Peter Somerville, Keith Halfacree and Gary Bosworth