chapter  10
22 Pages

Social isolation in city and countryside

ByANJA MACHIELSE

Social isolation is often associated with city life. The assumption is that residents of rural areas are less likely to be lonely or socially isolated than city dwellers. Allegedly, villages have a strong sense of community, family ties are stronger, and societal participation and involvement are more selfevident than in the cities. For this reason, in this chapter we focus on the comparison between city and countryside. We look first at the composition of the population in urban and non-urban areas as this can have consequences for interaction patterns and social neighbourhoods. The presumption is that the possibilities for enduring social contacts are greater as people in the immediate vicinity have more common characteristics and as they share more values, norms and manners (Section 10.3). The place where people live forms the spatial context for an important part of their social and societal activities. The question we raise here is whether an urban environment offers fewer possibilities for social and societal participation than more small-scale rural environments. We will then compare the social neighbourhoods of residents of urban and non-urban areas (Section 10.4), various forms of societal participation (Section 10.5) and the orientation towards the social environment (Section 10.6). We will finish with the main conclusions (Section 10.7).