2004
Volume 122, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0040-7518
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1163

Abstract

The rural has always been an established field of historical research. However, over the course of the twentieth century, the countryside was subject to significant changes in its spatial and social structure. These transformations made ‘rurality’ an increasingly problematic notion and encouraged a debate regarding definition in which mainly social scientists, geographers, and planning experts were engaged. In this article, the author attempts to evaluate changing views of the rural in the academic milieu. The different approaches through which the countryside has been studied may serve as signposts for historians of the twentieth century. It is argued that investigating the evolving discourse and the social representations of rurality – within multiple societal spheres and amongst a variety of actors – is very fruitful for contemporary historical studies, especially when examining highly urbanized countries such as the Netherlands or Belgium. This strand of research is not a futile or purely theoretical exercise; on the contrary, it will allow historians better to understand the social, cultural, economic, and political processes operating in the twentieth-century countryside.

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/content/journals/10.5117/TVGESCH2009.1.EMME
2009-03-01
2021-10-20
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  • Article Type: Research Article
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