Health and Rural Places

Authored by: Neil Hanlon , Robin Kearns

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

10.4324/9781315753041.ch5

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Abstract

More than four decades have passed since the publication of The Country and the City, Raymond Williams’s (1993 [1973]) brilliant study of literary and cultural constructions of the English countryside as a bucolic and virtuous landscape. According to Williams, the ‘country’ idyll served as a constant counterpoint to literary representations of modern city life as worldly and ever changing. His concern was to illuminate the contradictions of these cultural constructions, and to undermine the idea of the ‘rural’ as a refuge from wider forces of change in English society. In the spirit of this critical analysis, we seek to challenge the notion that ‘rural’ is a homogeneous category, that rural populations are static, that rural ways of life operate independently of wider social and economic processes, and that there are uniquely ‘rural’ determinants of health. This is not to suggest that we regard ‘rural’ as a meaningless category, but rather that it must be understood in relational terms.

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