Manuel Trummer

The countryside and rurality

Perspectives drawn from cultural analysis of the rural


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There is currently a remarkable boom in all things rural. As a perceptual category used in politics, the media and the leisure industry, the hype surrounding the countryside and rurality can be correlated with growing economic, social and cultural inequalities in cities and rural areas. Uncertainties concerning the significance of and future options for rural areas amidst the structural changes of the 20th and 21st centuries are manifesting today as symptoms of society’s search for orientation. The crises facing rural areas as they attempt to adjust to these changes have to do primarily with the transformation of modern agriculture. The developments occurring in rural areas are interpreted in this article as part of a process of reflexive modernization. Drawing on the disciplinary history of European Ethnology, it becomes possible to open up a research perspective focusing on the side effects of technical-industrial modernization, i.e. its impacts on everyday culture in rural areas and, associated with this, broader cultural negotiations of rurality. Drawing also on recent spatial theories, the present article frames the discourse-forming categories of the rural landscape (meaning the physical landscape) and of rurality as a cultural dispositive or, in praxeological terms, as “doing rural”. A three-pronged research program on “Regimes of the Rural,” “Cultures in Rural Areas” and “Rural Imaginaries” is planned to exemplify possible approaches and perspectives of a cultural analysis of the rural.

rural areas, rurality as a cultural dispositive, structural change, agriculture