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33.2 Making space for and with rural youth

Thursday, June 29, 2023
15:45 - 17:15


Naama Zohar
Ph.d. Student
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Grounded identity – The conversion of land and agriculture from financial to symbolic capital in the Israeli-Jewish rural sphere


Following the Bourdieusian approach, symbolic capital is commonly explored in literature at the individual level. The current paper focuses on a relatively unexplored concept of symbolic capital in its collective form, and the bi-directional process of conversion between symbolic and financial capital. Our main focus is the Israeli-Jewish rural sphere and the dramatic events around its largest youth movement, which has gone through transformations in the years 2018-2019. As part of these transformations, a large portion of the communities in the rural sphere deserted their historical affiliation with the socialist youth movement, and established a new youth movement under an organization whose key goal is “guarding the land through learning and practice”, highlighting land and agriculture as key values. Rural spheres throughout the developed world have been facing extreme challenges in recent decades, including the decline of agriculture, depopulation, decline of services and development pressures, all challenging rural identity and values and requiring redefinition and reorganization. In addition to these above-mentioned global challenges, the Israeli-Jewish rural sphere also experienced the collapse of its complex organizational structure and the decline of its affiliated socialist movement, causing some unique communal, governance and identity challenges. We argue that the youth movement shift reflects this deeper structural and identity crisis, suggesting that the transition toward land and agriculture as leading values represents an attempt to convert a declining financial capital into symbolic capital in an effort to preserve the rural way of life and its stance in the face of internal and external threats.
Dr. Matthias Gebauer
Institute Of Geography
University of Bayreuth

The Future Youth Research Mission: Youth Participation in Town and City Development in Upper Franconia, Germany


The rural youth in the aging societies of Central Europe is facing a multitude of challenges for their everyday life. Three aspects are of central importance: a) the question for social and political representation, b) the question of availability of social space, infrastructure and resources within the public realm, and c) the challenges associated with a growing mobility and migration from rural areas to urban centers. The Future Youth Research Mission at the Institute of Geography, University of Bayreuth is working and researching together with the rural youth of the city of Kulmbach and neighboring towns in Upper Franconia with the aim to strengthen the position – in terms of spaces of everyday life as well as political representation – of the younger generation in a society that is strongly influenced by the demographic change. The research mission started in 2022 and is supported by the Federal Program “Live Democracy!“ and the Youth Agency of the region of Kulmbach. The research objectives are twofold: One is to include the youth into public planning and development processes by means of qualitative and quantitative participatory research methods. The other is to systemically map the social and spatial state of play of the everyday lifeworld of the rural youth in the region. For the latter, methods and methodologies of Systems Thinking for Social Change are applied. The presentation will provide insights into the ongoing project as well as a detailed look into the case study of the city of Kulmbach.
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Dr. Gwenda van der Vaart
Assistant Professor
University of Groningen

‘Expedition Eemsdelta’: exploring and re-imagining daily meaningful places using creative methods with young people in rural northern Netherlands


Youth is an often-overlooked group in spatial planning practices, despite their intensive usage of public spaces (Anderson, 2021). Adolescents have outgrown children’s places and do not yet completely fit into adult ones. Having a place of one’s own and having a say in creating places, is argued to be crucial for well-being, fostering a sense of belonging and stimulating participation (Evans, 2008). Engaging with youth on topics such as place-making through creative research methods and using participatory research approaches has therefore gained considerable research attention over the years (e.g. Jupp, 2007; Trell, 2013). In the context of rural communities dealing with issues like decline and out-migration of young people, it is critical to better understand what aspects make places meaningful for young people and how to make space for and with rural youth to enhance rural liveability.

This research focused on a rural region in the northern-Netherlands and involved working with a school class (19 adolescents aged 13-14), using PhotoVoice and collaborative sketching workshops. The ‘Expedition Eemsdelta’ project aimed to gain a better understanding of how young people perceive, experience and use their newly-built school-campus and other public places in the region, and together develop ideas for a spatial design intervention for making ‘a place of their own’. In this paper we reflect on the relevance of exploring youth participation and place-making for liveability of rural places in transition, and on the potentials of creative research methods for enabling researchers to go on ‘expeditions’ into daily places of youth.

Session host

Britta Restemeyer
University of Groningen

Elen-Maarja Trell
Assistant Professor
University of Groningen

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Gwenda van der Vaart
Assistant Professor
University of Groningen



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

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