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Agri-food workers: transnational connections in small towns and rural areas

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Ruth McAreaveyORCiD


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This chapter investigates the lives of migrants who work in the agri-food sector. It examines their potential to transform small towns in economic regions that are economically lagging. Previous research and policy initiatives have identified migration as having a transformative effect on small towns, addressing significant demographic challenges and economic decline. Using empirical data from Northern Ireland, which is located in the United Kingdom, the chapter will explore migrants’ sense of belonging and attachment to small rural towns. The chapter begins by looking at transnational links before moving on to consider territorial development, how non-metropolitan space is dealt with in a policy context, how space is socially constructed and the specifically exploitative nature of agri-food. It then uses empirical data from focus groups and interviews conducted in Northern Ireland before concluding by showing that place matters differently for different groups. Place matters differently for different people and there is not necessarily a sense of attachment or belonging arising from living and working in a new society. Further, the potential of migrants to enrich societies through economic and social contributions is jeopardised by structural constraints within the labour market and by settlement patterns that lead to residential segregation.

Publication metadata

Author(s): McAreavey R

Editor(s): Banksi, J

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Routledge International Handbook of Small Towns

Year: 2021

Pages: 296-309

Print publication date: 17/08/2021

Online publication date: 17/08/2021

Acceptance date: 09/11/2020

Edition: 1

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.4324/9781003094203


Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9780367555900