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Search all titles. Search all titles Search all collections. Your Account Logout. Rural Identities. By Sarah Neal. Tools Request permission Export citation Add to favorites Track citation. Share Give access Share full text access. Share full text access. Please review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article. Get access to the full version of this article. View access options below. You previously purchased this article through ReadCube. Institutional Login. Log in to Wiley Online Library. Purchase Instant Access. View Preview.

Learn more Check out. Abstract Since Morales's election, rural movements have become the new protagonists of Bolivian politics. Citing Literature. Alun Howkins suggests that this idyllisation of the south of England worked as a powerful antithesis to the geography and war horrors of Flanders.

The ways in which WW1 worked with and produced a rural idyll of the English nation was multidimensional. It threaded through the writing of war poets like Siegfried Sassoon, Edward Thomas and Edmund Blunden of course but it was there in the imaginings and dreamings of fields and lanes and cottages that ordinary soldiers wrote of in their letters and correspondence home and, as a measure of the effectiveness of ruralism it can be read into the increase, in the post-World War I period, of ex-soldiers buying plot land and shanty building in the countryside Howkins, 80— It was exactly these images that were selected to instill fortitude in the population and act as visual reminder of the nation.

The mobilisation of a ruralist versions of nation are not confined to the extreme political moments of war. It is possible to see some of this anxiety at work in the reflections of the political and populist right. Conservative politicians in particular have drawn on such images, from Home Secretary William Whitelaw recounting the rural view from his garden as urban unrest spread across inner city areas of Britain to former Prime Minister John Major suggesting that a gentle ruralism would continue to define a Britain of the future see Chapter 4. However this was a London story rather than a new story of England.

Indeed throughout the late s and the early s the New Labour government, with its metropolitan associations, had a particularly turbulent relationship with the countryside see Woods, for example. Not only did the Countryside Alliance show itself to be highly politically organised — there were three large scale national marches held in central London for example — but it was able to present the Alliance as the authentic voice of the countryside and of rural values. The Countryside Alliance successfully managed to allude to, borrow and adapt from the political language and images associated with previous and radical social justice campaigns and then apply these to a stark rural—urban oppositional binary see Neal and Agyeman, In particular, the Alliance focused its arguments with the government around the theme of freedom and national identity — the fox hunting ban provided the context for the Alliance to make effective links between over regulation, notions of a national rural culture and everyday rural practices and freedom and distil this into an argument of rural populations constituting a minority cultural group ibid.

Woods, 28 Rural Identities identity being endangered by a metropolitan elite was of course that old sleight of hand in which the rural becomes a container for, and symbol of a particular version of Englishness albeit one injected with a the new twist of the conservative use of radical social justice politics. This particular and necessarily narrow imagining of the rural has held a long appeal for the political right — not only for those with conservative tendencies but also for those on the extreme right in Britain.

The British National Party has tapped into those explicitly raced elements of urban to rural migrants that some of the early research on racism in rural areas documented. The focus on a rural agenda has delivered the British National Party some political successes notably winning councillor seats in Worsthorne a rural village in Northern England in local elections in the early s ibid.

This idea of race being an uncommented on absence in English rural spaces is a contrast to other national settings. In the United States for example the history of the Deep South and the history of Native American Indians mean that rural landscapes are deeply entangled with African-American culture, racial violence, segregation and racial inequality. In Australia too the rural base of Australian Aboriginal settlement, culture and struggles fundamentally recasts the rural others debates. In postcolonial Zimbabwe and Kenya and post apartheid South Africa the high profile contestations over white owned farms and land rights again prohibits the sanitisation and purification of rural spaces.

Much of the rural identity and rural otherness debates have been situated within a very British and often, very English, context. The sanctification and associated regulation of rural spaces have been about the cultural representations and constructions of Englishness and, at various historical Debating Rurality: Englishness and Otherness 29 and contemporary moments, at the heart of political and policy processes. For example, as I noted above, until the early 20th century the country house was integral to class and political systems in Britain.

In policy terms in Britain the imagined and material distinction between country and city has been firmly maintained with the help of the Green Belt planning regulations which aimed to protect the countryside and stop the urban and suburban sprawl. At a moment of affluent counter urbanisation, rural repopulation and current debates as to the future of the Green Belt policy the contestations over rural space and how it is used and by whom is as intense as ever. Nor is this to suggest that such narratives do not contain rural folk devils and rural others.

Rather, it is to suggest that those narratives have not constructed sanctified, purified and regulated rural spaces to the same totalising extent. In a different example which nevertheless demonstrates the same point researchers have argued that the reason that the New Age Traveller controversy has died down in the context of the British countryside is because many New Age Travellers have moved to mainland European rural spaces. Although these are not without trespass laws, policing and regulation, New Age Travellers have not been viewed with the same intense anxiety and so are not perceived as requiring legislation and subject to draconian policing Hetherington, However, as New Age Travellers have diminished as cultural and social threat within English countrysides than the vacated space has been taken up with the emergence of often crudely articulated anxieties about asylum seekers and migrant agricultural workers in rural and semirural environments.

The New Labour governments feted and then abandoned plans vociferously opposed by local residents to convert disused airbases in parts of rural Nottinghamshire and Worcestershire in are one of the most obvious examples of this. As Les Back notes the issues of race have escaped from 30 Rural Identities their traditional containment of the inner city as more recent forms of contested migrations — for example migrant workers, asylum seekers and refugees — have become associated with smaller cities and towns and particularly seaside towns. In a reflection of the multi-ethnicity of England on the one hand and of the global movement of peoples on the other what is increasingly apparent is the impossibility of separating the English countryside from these and suggesting that rural spaces are not as much part of these processes as urban spaces.

More than anything though what these contestations and mobilisations demonstrate is the politically unsettled character of rural spaces. However, what I want to suggest is that despite the consolidation of a growing body of literature that incorporates notions of otherness and advances conceptions of rurality and the ways in which rural spaces are enrolled into national narratives with exclusionary material outcomes, this has had only a limited and uneven impact on rural policy development and policy delivery in the English countryside.

There are social and economic related politics and conflicts of the rural that are conducted in the mainstream and very public arenas — who could ignore the hunting debate, controversies about the location of wind farms, housing development plans, the closure of rural post offices, fears about GM crops and Avian bird flu as well as worries about the impact of house prices and high levels of second home ownership?

But in populist and political terms the English countryside still manages to remain entrenched in its seductive offerings of secure spaces — in need of protection from the effects of larger social changes and under contestant threat and endangered perhaps — but nevertheless, with a remarkable tenacity, rural spaces seem adept at being able to remain successfully operating as a complex point of assemblage in which private and public desire and anxiety and affection converge.

In other words English rural spaces continue to be able to work as and present as spatialised reassurances of social order and certainty. They not only continue to do so — and this is a key trouble of this book — but they increasingly take up this role in the face of rising ontological insecurities and uncertainties about national identity.

It has been around long enough to have survived layers of identity crises, regardless of who or what provoked them. It is within the vacuum of identification then rural spaces have become a particular focus of contestation and argument. The rural, as a container of ethnic identification, familiarity and orderliness, works with and through the social and with, and through, nature. In the concept of the rural the social and nature continually leak into, and borrow from, each other. It is a sense of belonging and finding salvation there, in a community — preferably consisting of a church, pub, farms, cottages, a small school and a Big House.

We have, we English, a national village cult: we cherish the myth out there, among fields and woods, there still survives a timeless natural innocence and lack of corruption. Emphasis added I have quoted Trollope at length here because of her of presentation of English ethnicity as profoundly entangled with and collapsible into the countryside i. While the focus of rural otherness debates and worries about processes of rural exclusion have been primarily on social relations there has been a neglect of the ways in which nature is incorporated and actively shapes those social relations.

Trollope is specific in her definitions of what a rural community looks like. Her outline of the architecture and the type of social institutions that constitutes a rural community reflect the extent to which the notion of rural community acts as a condensation symbol Edelman, In particular it acts as a condensation symbol of social stability and order. It is exactly this model of a rural community that has been of concern within sociology more broadly and within the critical rethinking of the rural studies approach.

It is these key aspects of community — the relationship of the concept to the rural; the durability and the emotional appeal of the concept and its naturalisation within pastoral landscapes that is the focus of the next chapter. This page has been left blank intentionally Chapter 3 Mapping Rurality: Community and Countrysides Introduction Community is, as I have argued earlier, a troubled but durable social science concept.

While it works across time and space see Mooney and Neal, for example more than anything community works as a potent container of and symbol for the ways in which rural social relations are organised. What this chapter sets out to examine is the way in which this communityrural relationship works with such proximity in both social science research and deliberations and in everyday rural contexts. The chapter begins by acknowledging the assumptions, ambiguities and anxieties that are associated with the concept of community before tracing the extent to which it has shaped social research agendas.

Writing in p. For Glass the descriptive nature of community research and its absence of quantitative data meant that community studies could be taken as no more than a non-comparative set of time and place specific social stories. Community became revisited as a non-spatially based concept and from this as a site in which co-constituting processes of inclusion and exclusion occurred, were reproduced and were reinforced.

In other words the cosy, organic community described by Trollope in the Chapter 2 concealed the extent to which communities operated as boundaries and zones in which people were kept out and zones in which the behaviour of those that were included was heavily regulated. While I return to these arguments in more detail below and in Chapter 5 what I want to suggest here is that although social science may be cautious about community and its ability, as a concept, to analyse social relationships this has not diminished its dominance within social science nor has it diminished its dominance in wider social and everyday settings.

On this basis it is crucial for social science to retain a concern with community and to be engaged by what it appears to be able to offer and gives it its populism. In other words community is impossible to ignore even though the contentions as to how it gets used as an analytical tool for understanding contemporary social relations remain. This does not mean that the conversations were identical — for some rural communities were under threat from a variety of sources, for others rural communities were alive and flourishing but certainly the conversation that is presented below captures a very common experience that was expressed in the focus group interviews: Ava: I organise the British Legion Poppy round and my round takes me so long because I know the people so well.

It was a real social event. But my point here is that there was a reiterated emphasis that was put on the Gemeinschaft social village by participants across the three case study areas and across the different types of focus groups. While this commitment to community carried anxieties with it — was it under threat from outsiders, urban migrants, the closure of social resources, agricultural changes and so forth — any explicit discussions of community tensions and social divisions were almost non-existent.

Challenges made within the focus group interviews to Gemeinschaft narratives tended to be limited and very much framed within the bounds of what the rest of the group agreed with. More diverse or competing narratives were then more difficult to elicit and access. This difficulty is best captured in the Appleby WI discussion when Ruth, who had lived in the village since , alludes to her senses of isolation and social divisions within the village: Ruth: I mean I found that the only way that I was meeting people was through the WI or through the pub or things like that.

Olive: I suppose you are yes. Others: Yes, yes. Ruth: Yes. Researcher: When you say in the middle do you mean physically? Rural Identities 36 Ruth: And who actually work on the farm, they used to be farm labourers. Sylivia: No. Page 4 of transcript It is possible to see from this exchange that Ruth offers her observations about class to the group to verify. When Ruth tries again to assert a half-and-half division in the village this is rejected by Jan. Pip: Most of us mix. While support for Ruth is voiced within the group it is expressed in terms of Ruth having conceded to the argument on mixing.

Olive: I find it more sort of friendly than say Ruth does, she feels more of a split, I never did.

It may have been an uncomfortable experience in that she alone offered a more critical version of life in their village. It emerges after a long discussion about the local landscape and what it is that makes them feel at home in it: Ruth [to the researcher]: Why are you so interested in what we like? Page 41 of transcript. Appleby WI, Hertfordshire It is certainly possible to read a re positioning here of the researcher as an outsider. There is an absence of discussion of this aspect of community in some of the early rural community focussed research in the UK.

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The work of American anthropologists Arensberg and Kimball in County Clare, Ireland and Welsh geographer Alwyn Rees in Montgomeryshire, Wales is largely silent on the notion of divisions and antagonism within social relations in their case study areas. Both of these studies presented the themes of family, kinship and neighbourliness as core to explaining local social systems in rural settlement and arguing that these were cohesive, interdependent and complete or whole social systems.

By welcoming them to his home, by visiting them in their turns, by helping them in their troubles and by cooperating with them in the performance of certain kinds of farm work, he maintains a form of society which dispenses with the functions of a central meeting place at a village or town. But his study has value too in Mapping Rurality: Community and Countrysides 39 terms of its observational descriptions of aspects of social relations in remote rural locations in the s and s.

Although the Gosforth study focussed on class and social status — Williams used seven categories of class to examine social systems and relations he nevertheless argued that family, kinship and neighbourliness were all highly interactional and able to work across these categories. While Bell and Newby are critical of the absence of quantative measures by which to compare these early community studies what is more striking well over half a century on is the extent to which the notion of imminent change to rural populations — particularly from an urban outside — casts a perennial shadow over these studies.

The members of this focus group are nearly all connected to farming and had lived in Hertfordshire almost all of their lives. However, at the end of the discussion it is clear that there is some anxiety about appearing as too hostile to outsiders as this extract from the interview shows: Dave: What do you think of us then? What do we come across as? Rural Identities 40 Dave: Yeah. Researcher: Not at all.

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Oh no. Researcher: Do I lie so badly! Actually what you have said has been very interesting. Paul: Are your views the same as ours then or not? While the researcher does seek to respond to this anxiety and reassure the focus group members when she is pushed by Paul to reveal her own thoughts she invokes her distance and stresses her urban, nonrural identity as a strategy for avoiding having to openly associate or disassociate herself from the conversation that has taken place. This does not dispel the groups worries though. While the Rees and Williams studies do engage with the processes of social change within local rural communities they both assert that the interactional wholeness of those communities was their strongest and most dominant feature.

Later studies of rural communities in the UK began to engage more fully with the ways in which community in rural areas had to be understood as a stratified concept defined by notions of division, boundaries and outsiders. While for Newby this meant that conflict had to be viewed as integral to rural social Mapping Rurality: Community and Countrysides 41 relations he argued that this conflict was to greater and lesser extents contained by the dominance of the authoritarian and deferential narratives of the village community.

Newby 46 argued that community could be seen in the ways in which working class agricultural labourers had, a strong sense of shared occupational experience, a distinctive occupational culture, an overlap between work and non-work roles and loyalties, a prevalence of closely knit cliques of friends, workmates, neighbours and relatives and generally a strong sense of group identity which marked off the village from the others that surrounded it.

This strong sense of attachment to primary groups was partly a function of geographical isolation and a common occupation, but it was also forged out of the economic necessities of living close to poverty which promoted values of mutual aid and neighbourliness. This narrative is one which focuses on the whole village and its territorial geography and folds social inequality into this. As Newby argues, The encouragement of localism enabled identification with the social system to prevail by emphasising a common adherence to territory, a solidarity of place, encompassing both elite and subordinates alike.

While Strathern focussed on notions of kinship and belonging rather than class in the village she, like Newby, found a series of social stratifications. However, Strathern argues that the boundary mechanisms between the social categories of Elmdon society interacted with, rather than were defined by, land and property ownership and did so in a complexly defined hierarchy of social relations. Emphasis in original. In other words community, belonging and boundary were conceptual, constituted through particular and varying forms of imagining on the part of the Elmdon residents and were context specific.

The protest involving the fishermen of Whalsay — the main fishing community in Shetland — was part of national action against a series of problems such as the overfishing of Scottish waters by Icelandic, Danish Mapping Rurality: Community and Countrysides 43 and Russian fleets, the impact of cheap Norwegian frozen fish, and the imposition of fishing limit zones.

In challenging conditions — of weather and politics — the Whalsay fishermen blockaded Lerwick harbour in the spring of For example he notes how the leader and appointed organiser of the blockade was successful in this role because he used very familiar ways of communicating with the rest of the people involved in the protest — he communicated in an ordinary way as a skipper and emphasised the values of seamanship rather than taking up a role as a community leader using a language of collective protest and solidarity.

The key point to take from this is that community only emerged at particular moments and because of particular contexts and it had to be coaxed into being and it was most explicitly present only through its interactions with outsiders. However this is not to say there was no content — a number of everyday, mundane and ordinary practices and experiences could be mobilised to flesh out and make tangible the notion of community — the values and skills of seamanship; of a the shared fate; of the sense of being on the periphery of a politics and policy-making process imposed from above and from outside.

For Cohen it was the subjective meanings that people made out of such symbols which created notions of community rather than the existence of an objective community with quantifiable and measureable external features. Not least because its methodology unintentionally lent itself precisely to participants mobilising such a meta-discourse of community.

There has been a tendency in rural anthropological and journalistic studies to focus in depth on a series of individuals within the case study rural areas. In contrast, as Chapter 1 detailed, my project emphasised local collective conversations and interactions and its use of focus groups interviews as forums to facilitate access to these.

However, this research design, in which the focus group members were all known to each other, were friends and neighbours and part of local rural networks, accentuated the outsider 44 Rural Identities status of the researcher and made insider dissent difficult to be voiced and heard as the discussion of Ruth evidenced.

What is possible to see from the interview extracts that I have cited from are the collectively generated expressions of anxiety and guardedness as well as revelation and intimacy. These class divisions were apparent to Bell in other everyday habits and life style behaviours. For example Bell discusses how village residents and their families and friends using either the back door or the front door to gain entry to their houses can offer a number of cultural and class readings.

But what is more striking is that the residents of Childerley felt uncomfortable and ambivalent about the issues of class identity and class based practices. That it is the social rather than nature that almost always occupies the focus of the earlier rural studies discussed here of Rees, Williams, Newby, Strathern and Cohen is particularly striking. However, this is not to argue that the social has become diminished in any way. As a number of commentators have noted the social — particularly when it is contained within a notion of community — has never been stronger than at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st.

It is this that I now examine.


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The Enduring Appeal of Community As worries about the demise and the irretrievable loss of community abound then its appeal intensifies Bauman, These worries are themselves part of a broader late modern social insecurity. They are worries about the loss of particular types of idealised communities too. In an unequivocal indictment of urbanism he argued that, 46 Rural Identities The failure of the urban world to give its inhabitants status and significance in a functioning society, and their consequent disintegration into formless masses of rootless nonentities should make us humble in planning a new life for the countryside.

The completeness of the traditional rural society — involving the cohesion of family, kindred and neighbours — and its capacity to give the individual a sense of belonging, are phenomena that might well be pondered by all who seek a better social order. Of course as we have seen from our discussion of Elmdon and Childerley rural communities were not quite the complete social world Rees would present.

Nevertheless the discussions above testify to the importance of a notion of community that transcends conflict and division. John Clarke suggests that the yearnings about community can be understood through four popular desires: restoration, security, sociality and solidarity. Not only were social relations more mutual and warm they were also appropriately deferential and this produced a wider stability.

This notion of a loss of a better way to be and behave relates to and reinforces the idea that community delivers senses of security.

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As the role of the welfare state has diminished in the UK and other Anglophone countries within a discourse of individual enablement, opportunity and responsibility then a general mood of risk and the unpredictability of the world have increased Cochrane and Talbot, In this context of social fear community has come to matter more — it becomes a form of social retreat as well as a site of socialness. Clarke argues that community works as a container and model of both the imagined mutuality of an interdependent traditional sociality and a future, improved sociality.

The idea of sociality and interdependence runs through the fourth desire that Clarke suggests is part of understandings of community. This is the notion of solidarity and of shared values and concerns. This interpretation of community has been one which has been particularly drawn on as a social and survivalist resource by poor and marginalised and excluded communities.

However, solidarity is by no means confined to the resourcefulness and bonds of the dispossessed — solidarity can be mobilised around a whole range of social issues and concerns for both the affluent middle classes as well as poorer working class populations see Taylor, and Chapter 5 for example.

Just as community offers a meta-narrative which contains and glosses over social divisions and stratifications of places and locations for policy makers it has become something of a panacea for social problems and ills.

Rural identities and globalisation [2003]

In short a lot is demanded of community. It is in this vein that commentators such as Jock Young, Zygmunt Bauman and Eric Hobsbawm have all noted as the category of community becomes ever more elusive and complexly constituted in contemporary urbanist late modern societies, a traditional, 48 Rural Identities straightforward, ruralist model is ever more sought after. Community is a concept which makes sense to a highly diverse range of people and is one to which they can relate and perhaps more crucially than this it is something that a highly diverse range of people want to relate to.

As the subsequent chapters evidence, the concept of community remains a central one in every day life and social practices. These chapters also evidence some of the troubles of the concept in everyday life and social practices but this is inevitable. Even in the warm glow of Llanfihangel Alwyn Rees was already troubled by the shadows and shifts that he saw as increasing as the effects of mobility and urbanism continued their long reach. People actively in search of community tend to be committed to its visibility and to making it visible and expend effort and imagination into this task.

In rural areas this tends to follow some of the stratifications we have noted earlier. While in Lanfihangel the sociality that Clarke describes was of the hearth and home, between neighbours and kin, even here this was giving way to more selfconsciously constructed social bonds. Both Strathern and Bell observed community-making labours in Elmdon and Childerley and both noted the irony that the efforts to create community through mainly middle class driven activities of organising the village fete, the harvest festival, the tidying up of the village graveyard and so on, actually led to new divisions and resentments and senses of local customs and concerns being taken over by those moving into the village from outside.

But in many ways it is these efforts to make community that are important. It is too easy to accuse community of being a strawman but then not account for its popularity and social appeal. That people do yearn for and expend considerable effort in actualising community does need to be attended to and acknowledged. We can note its silencing of internal dissent and difference and we can note its inevitable boundary construction and its highly problematic constant excluding and including dynamic but for me it is the appeal of community that remains Mapping Rurality: Community and Countrysides 49 crucial to keep in mind.

But my suggestion is that that is only a partial story of community. Similarly only partially accurate is the narrative that community is continually elusive and never more so in the current era of precariousness and uncertainty. Jock Young compares organic communities with late modern ones and notes that the former were face to face, intergenerational, embedded in locality and local identity and informal processes of social control.

He argues that, in contrast, the features of later modern communities are difference, fragmentation, pluralism and transience. They are mediated, global, calculating and chaotic in that wealth and poverty can exist cheek by jowl. And yet for all this there does remain a sociality. Young is speaking of community in urban settings. But what happens if we apply his model to rural settings? Would it be so different? Cheek by jowl wealth and poverty were very much features of rural settlement.

Transient and mobile populations have also been much more part of rural environments than popularly assumed. Not only because of some of the social changes of enclosure and clearance and changes in agricultural production but because agriculture itself has always required labour on intermittent and seasonal basis — agriculture has a tradition of using low paid migrant labour which it maintains today. The organic communities of the past, whether as the rural model or the industrial working class based model, were more mobile, divided, heterogeneous and chaotic than they are now recalled as being.

Similarly my suggestion here is that the fragmented, pluralist, mediated, late modern communities are not completely without a social dimension or face to face interaction or a local identity or senses of belonging being expressed by those that live in those localities. The current policy and political interest in social capital reflects some of this aspect of social relations in both urban and rural settings.

The study, conducted over an eight year period, tracked families and sought to examine how the conditions of an area impacted on the formation or depletion of social capital. Power and Willmot found that their respondents talked extensively about community, social networks, family relations and supports within all four areas. Family contact and support was common amongst respondents especially in the North England area and especially around child care and support. Most friends were locally based and 60 per cent of respondents have at least weekly contact with their friends who were a source of practical and emotional support.

My point is a simple one. It is that some caution is needed so as not to overstate linearity of the organic to fragmented community story. While late modern perceptions and experiences of risk and uncertainty and precariousness have produced heightened senses of ontological insecurity which have driven in part the desires for community and the rural community model in particular it is important to not fall into the trick of the god word of community nor over imagine both its yesteryear glow and its contemporary decline.

Conclusion I began this chapter by noting that the concept of community was difficult but ubiquitous. While I pick up again on the troubles of community and its much argued over status in Chapter 5 it is the ways in which community continues to have meaning and importance to people outside of the worries of social science and the ways in which community has been a focus of for rural studies research that has been central to this chapter.

I have suggested that community appears to grow in importance rather than decline. The rural community in particular acts as a condensation symbol in that it is able to summon up notions of the organic, the small scale, the local, social Mapping Rurality: Community and Countrysides 51 well-being, trust and mutuality.

The chapter has argued that the examples of studies of rural communities reveal a rather more complex picture of mutuality and highly stratified patterns of social relations. These studies also provided insights to the ways in which community does not simply exist as a constant, observable thing but rather is summoned up according to context and event and threat — it becomes known only through its interactions with others and often those others are outsiders. In being summoned up in these different moments and ways community is able to hold contradictory properties by making a purchase on place and locality and the rural.

I have argued that there is not an unbroken story of a once existing organic rural community-ness to a contemporary anomic urban non-community. This, and the extent to which people commit themselves to assembling and maintaining structures of community feeling, is examined and taken further in Chapter 5. However this raises the question as to where such community making processes stem from? Original emphasis. What I want to rather tentatively propose is that the focus on the social of the studies of rural communities obscured the ways in which their very spatiality impacts on notions of belonging and attachment and affection.

What happens when we incorporate rural nature and nation to the category community? It is this question that the next chapter attempts to think through. This page has been left blank intentionally Chapter 4 Rethinking Rurality: Ethnicity and Englishness Introduction What is meant by ethnicity?


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  6. How can the relationship between ethnicity, community and space be understood? In what ways is each contingent and how does each constitute the other? Is ethnicity solely a social and culturally based concept? It is these kinds of questions which this chapter attempts to think through. But I want to begin with a vignette.

    In June the Hayward Gallery hosted the Psycho Buildings exhibition — a stunning and strange collection of installations in which the physical and emotional collided in a range of disorientating and reassuring ways. It reminded me of driving home as a child in winter evenings back to our outlying farm on the moors and leaving behind Hebden Bridge, cosy in its deep valley, and seeing the little town grow smaller and more twinkly with its warm bright lights clustered at the centre and straggling up the hillsides before giving way to the emptiness of the fields and moors.

    And it reminded me of more recent holidays in rural Italy and looking across from cooling terraces to the shadowy mountain views on darkening evenings and seeing the tiny, far off lights of other hamlets and villages breaking up those dark wooded expanses. Lesley: Oh yes. Pip: Oh yes, this green and everything. Penny: With the thatched cottages. Jan: Oh yes. Appleby WI Researcher: Do you have a favourite place or view or building or something that is special to you?