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'Deprivation' and 'the rural': an investigation into contradictory discourses

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Rachel WoodwardORCiD


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This paper investigates the issue of 'rural deprivation' using material collected for the Rural Lifestyles Project, conducted at Saint David's University College, Lampeter. The concept of 'deprivation' usually deployed within the literature in rural studies is problematic, and a number of criticisms are made about existing conceptualisations of the term. One of these criticisms is based on the finding that amongst respondents interviewed for the study of lifestyles in rural areas of England, a number were highly critical of the application of the term 'deprivation' to rural areas. This issue is explored through an investigation of the discourses of 'the rural', taken to mean a system of meanings that describe English rural areas. An examination of these discourses shows how 'deprivation' is denied, and this is investigated through a discussion of the representation of rural areas as problem-free and 'idyllic' in some way; through the portrayal of 'deprivation' as a fault of the individual; and through the construction of 'deprivation' as a feature of 'the rural's' 'other', i.e. the urban. The paper concludes with a call for the attitudes and beliefs of different groups of people living in rural areas to be taken account of in the production of research into lifestyles in rural areas. Copyright © 1996 Elsevier Science Ltd All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Woodward R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Rural Studies

Year: 1996

Volume: 12

Issue: 1

Pages: 55-67

Print publication date: 01/01/1996

ISSN (print): 0743-0167

ISSN (electronic): 1873-1392


DOI: 10.1016/0743-0167(95)00048-8


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