chapter  12
26 Pages

Urban–rural

John: I get lost downtown. There’s too much going on down there.

Too many lanes. You go in there and there’s people and you’re flying

and somebody jumps in front of you. No, I get mad so I just don’t go

down there. (Vanderbeck and Dunkley 2003: 252)

Christopher: If we’ve got the money, we’d go and play pool and have a

few pints. (McDowell 2002: 112)

Francis: I don’t want to work for a company that I’m not – I don’t

think I’ll be happy in. So, I’m willing to postpone things and make

sure I get the right one. (Henderson et al. 2007: 52)

The quotes above from John, Christopher and Francis offer some

explanations for their experiences of urban and/or rural places. John’s

preference is to live in a rural area as he finds the city a busy and

bustling place with lots going on. Contrary to this, Christopher’s

reflection on his life in the city is about what he does in his leisure time:

play pool and have a few drinks. Francis talks about looking for work

in the city and prefers to wait for a job he is happy in rather than taking

up work that won’t satisfy him. In different ways, the perspectives of

these three young people draw attention to specific aspects of growing

up in urban and/or rural places. There is a general tendency within

public and academic discourse to see urban youth and rural young

people as completely separate social entities. The sense is that

experiences of growing up, accounts of everyday experiences, and

processes of identity formation are very different for urban young

people compared with their counterparts living in rural areas. These

understandings are regularly reinforced by very powerful stereotypes

about rural and urban areas. Picturesque landscapes, the natural

environment of the countryside, open spaces and fields all contribute

to the stereotype that rural places are ideal locations for children and

young people to grow up. Rural communities are also often

stereotyped as harmonious, close-knit places away from the stresses

and strains of urban life (Kraack and Kenway 2002), and as such, the

rural is therefore often read in opposition to the urban which is

represented as stressful, threatening and dangerous. As Scott, Gilbert

and Gelan (2007) highlight, stereotypes about urban and rural

populations can be mapped across a range of dimensions of social

relations including education and employment, ethnicity, migration

and sense of community (Table 12.1).