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28.1 Staying in the rural: exploring multifaceted practices and rationales

5419.119 (Kapteynborg)
Tuesday, June 27, 2023
9:00 - 10:30


Prof. Ilona Matysiak
Associate Professor
Maria Grzegorzewska University

Stayers or leavers? Spatial (im)mobility patterns of young university graduates living in rural areas in Poland


This article aims to explore the (im)mobility patterns of 92 young university graduates living in ten selected rural municipalities in Poland interviewed within a qualitative study. This is achieved by dividing them into stayers, returnees and newcomers, and looking at their motivations to live in the countryside, plans about their future places of residence, as well as their integration into rural communities where they live by analysing their local socializing practices and community engagement. The results show that in each group, those who plan to stay put outnumber the potential leavers—that is, those who would prefer to live elsewhere. The main motivations to stay include a community and family attachment, as well as an aversion to the city or a lack of interest in an urban lifestyle. Having children, property, and a social life in the village also contribute to staying. The findings indicate, however, that a university education may affect the interviewees’ integration into the community in terms of weakening their relationships with peers without a university degree and shaping their aspirations and preferences, which do not always match those dominating a rural community.
Serhii Svynarets
Leibniz Institute For Regional Geography

Exploring residential immobility of people living in left-behind rural Germany


Characterized by long-lasting stagnation, decoupling from the centers, dependency of locals on governmental transfers, and ongoing social marginalization, left-behind regions (also known as ‘abgehängte Regionen’ in German-speaking context) became one of the most prominent topics in human geography over the last few years. In order to improve their quality of life, many residents of these regions choose out-migration as a strategy to deal with the negative effects of left-behindness. Nevertheless, the majority of the people stay in left-behind regions despite all obstacles. This study presents the first look at the results of an ongoing research project focusing on residential immobility of people in structurally weak rural area of Rhineland-Palatinate in southwestern Germany. Basing on the results of in-depth biographic interviews with local residents, the study aims to present the main reasons for the residential immobility in left-behind rural regions, as well as the change of the aspirations and constraints to stay over the life course of the residents. Taking into consideration the relativeness of immobility in time and space, this research aims to have a deeper look at the interrelation of mobility and immobility. Thus, we explore how residents of this left-behind rural region use different mobility practices (e.g. commute, remote work, virtual communication etc.) to support their residential immobility decisions.
Hieke van der Kloet
University of Groningen | Hanze UAS

House attachment and coping with a damaged dwelling by mid-to-later life and younger homeowners in a rural risk area


Most research on disasters focuses on technical and financial impacts, instead of the social and personal issues of residents, confronted with risks and hazards. Few studies have investigated the attachment and coping strategies of residents confronted with damage to their property in a rural, risk area. This paper examines why and how homeowners in the Dutch Groningen rural earthquake region are attached to and deal with human-induced risks to their dwellings. Earlier research demonstrates that, despite damage and risks, most homeowners still stay in the area. This study therefore focuses on house attachment, and coping strategies of 92 households with (multiple) damaged dwellings. A qualitative content analysis was performed on media-interviews with 61 homeowners aged 50 and older, 31 younger homeowners and additional interviews with two keyjournalists and homeowner. Results show that the staying of homeowners in the risk area can be explained by the physical and social/emotional attachment to the house, even though it is damaged. We identified four dimensions (or a combination) of house attachment related to family history with the property, heritage dwellings, (agricultural) business dwellings, and personally refurbished property whether or not linked to life-stage.
Coping strategies towards damaged dwellings appear to differ; younger homeowners are focused on the future, refurbishing the damaged home themselves, while mid-to-later life homeowners seem to be angry and frustrated towards authorities about what happened to their properties. The variation in house attachment and coping strategies used might clarify the staying of younger and mid-to-later life homeowners in a risky area.
Adnan Mirhanoğlu
KU Leuven

Rural stayers: Rethinking immobility and staying


The decline and marginalization of rural areas are major problems which are persistent in many regions across the globe. Numerous of such areas suffer from sustained poverty, an ageing and shrinking population, environmental degradation and limited capabilities to cope with climate change and socio-economic crises. Through the complex interactions between micro-level decision makers, the environment, social, political and economic trends in society and recent policy interventions, rural areas have undergone restructurings for centuries. These restructurings have led to changes in the rural population. Some (often young people) have left, others are staying behind. But amongst the stayers too, changes are happening, and diversification takes place. In our case study in Aˇglasun (Turkey) we have identified 4 types of staying households based on the assets they hold in relation to farming: (1) Income diversifying farmers, (2) Retired farmers, (3) Income transfer farmers and (4) farmers with active children.

Session host

Tialda Haartsen
Professor Rural Geography
University of Groningen

Annett Steinführer
Thünen Institute of Rural Studies



Contact for questions about abstracts or registration: groningen@congressbydesign.com 

Contact for questions about the content of the programme: ruralgeo2023@rug.nl