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08.2 Rural Careers: Labour Market Choices and Outcomes

Tuesday, June 27, 2023
11:00 - 12:30


Dr. Elisabeth Gruber
Post-doc Researcher
University of Innsbruck

The coworking space as a place of belonging. Socio-spatial aspects of coworking in rural areas in Austria


From a user’s perspective, coworking spaces (CWS) primarily offer operational advantages: CWS can be a point of contact to take the step into self-employment or offer support through exchange with other entrepreneurs. This advantage of a network is essential for many entrepreneurs and is often brought forward as a special benefit for young entrepreneurs, as well as for newcomers to a place or founders that have recently started their businesses. Especially in rural areas, contacts might be widespread and a CWS can represent a central knot. Further, a CWS offers an optimal working environment for founders since costs are usually low and contracts are flexible. Therefore, operational risks can be minimized. These advantages are well described in the academic literature (e.g. Heinzel & Engstler 2021; Manzini Ceinar & Mariotti, 2021). In our study on rural coworking spaces we further focused on socio-spatial implications for rural coworkers beyond the professional advantages. In qualitative interviews with rural coworkers in Austria, we found that rural CWS are typically attracting commuters, newcomers to rural areas, and returners. For self-employed or employed in the creative sector living in rural areas, CWS can be an alternative for commuting to urban agglomerations. For returners and newcomers, rural CWS can represent not only a networking opportunity but a place of belonging. In the proposed presentation, we will present our insights on (1) changed work-life realities due to working in a rural CWS close to home &(2) the meaning of rural CWS as places of belonging in rural areas.
Anne Lascaux
University of Poitiers

Becoming a farmer, a trap ? The narrowing of the migratory horizon of Moroccan farm owner in the provencal countryside


Most researchers have enlightened entrepreneurship among migrants from a transnational business perspective. But they were mostly analyzed in urban contexts and in the Global South. In developed countries, rural spaces invested by migrants from the southern hemisphere is often studied through the prism of their mobility.
I suggest to consider migrants as entrepreneurs in the countryside to question how farming shapes their economic activity and migratory project. My case study is a mediterranean suburban countryside, where numerous seasonal Moroccans farm workers come every year. For several years, it has appeared that the status of farm workers has been replaced by agricultural entrepreneurship. How do the constraints linked to agricultural activity in France contribute to the narrowing of the migration horizon of Moroccan farmers ? This proposition relies on the materials collected through participant observation for my PhD thesis in Geography.
The constraints linked to agricultural activity reduce the mobility of Moroccan farmers. Divided between the farm, where they produce, and nearby marketing networks to quickly sell perishable goods, their main horizon is now the Provençal countryside and its nearby cities. Moreover, in order to settle, Moroccan farmers mobilize a capital of autochthony, attaching them to the local rural space. Finally, by developing farms, Moroccans are anchored in a local rural space in which they are now key actors. They imitated the declining local elites and reproduced their social and economic practices to start a social climbing. This paper proposes to discuss entrepreneurship among migrant populations from the perspective of anchoring.
Dr. Tobias Weidinger
Postdoctoral Researcher
FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg

Employment trajectories of international migrants in rural Germany


This paper presents the results of two qualitative studies on the labour market experiences of international migrants in rural Germany. Between 2018 and 2022, individual in-depth interviews and focus group discussions were conducted with labour migrants and refugees as well as with rural entrepreneurs in the professional fields of (health)care, hospitality and handicraft. The research aimed to understand the role and importance of work for immigrants, their employment trajectories, as well as working conditions. The studies also investigated their future labour market perspectives, and pursued the question, if these areas are only a stepping stone for further migration to cities and to other economic sectors in Germany.

The findings indicate that migrants have a strong desire to work and establish themselves in rural areas, for instance to achieve financial independence and family reunification or to be able to afford the driving license, an own car or better housing. Results confirm well-known challenges when accessing employment, e.g. difficulties to obtain a visa and to recognize foreign qualifications and previous work experience as well as poor working conditions, discrimination and low wages. The employment trajectories, however, suggest inter-personal contacts through trial work and internships and support by mediators as core in rural areas. With regard to future labour market perspectives, interviewed migrants made their future in the company/facility, the professional field and region, i.e. also their staying orientation, dependent on the working conditions, the housing and recreational offers as well as the needs and desires of themselves and their family members.

Session host

Femke Cnossen
University of Groningen

Arjen Edzes
University of Groningen

Sierdjan Koster
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