Framing Rural Studies in the Global North

Authored by: Mark Shucksmith , David L. Brown

Routledge International Handbook of Rural Studies

Print publication date:  May  2016
Online publication date:  May  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138804371
eBook ISBN: 9781315753041
Adobe ISBN: 9781317619864


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In 2011, the United Nations (UN) announced that one half of the world’s population lived in urban areas. More developed regions attained this level in the late 1940s, and typically exceeded 75% by the turn of the 21st century. 1 However, the fact that population is concentrated in urban areas does not diminish the continuing importance of rural people, communities and environments. The vast majority of the world’s land and water is rural; most food and fibre is produced on rural land; energy and other natural resources are extracted in rural environments; major infrastructure such as transportation and communication is largely located in rural space; and, while a minority, rural population is still numerically significant even in highly developed and urbanised nations. Accordingly, rural population, economy and space still play a major role in producing national development and well-being. This book examines the organisation and transformation of rural society in more developed regions of the world. Moreover, while the book’s various chapters contribute to disciplinary knowledge of rural structure and change, they also provide a synthesis of current knowledge on various aspects of rural society, economy and environment that might inform public and private decisions and policies. Our focus is on the global north even though we agree with Woods (2012) that there is an ‘unbridged divide’ between rural studies in Europe, America and Australasia (the ‘global north’) and the rest of the world.

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