chapter  9
Researching from the standpoint of the rural
ByPHILIP ROBERTS
Pages 14

In this chapter I aim to outline a perspective on what a rural standpoint in research may be, and to encourage you, the reader, to consider your own ‘rural’ standpoint. My perspective on this is informed by the view that, while rural meanings are clearly important and need to be valued in research, methodological orthodoxy and the need to produce clear numbers for policy impact often erase the particularities of these meanings. Central to my argument is a perspective that the rural needs to be more than a setting for research or a point of difference justifying publication. Instead, it should be generative for, or pertinent to, the purpose of the research, and more than a category of description. In advancing this perspective, I suggest that some of what purports to be rural research tends to use the rural more or less as the setting or as a convenient example, and consequently does little to add to an understanding of the rural or how issues uniquely play out in the rural. As such, they tacitly assume a metropolitan norm, where the point of difference is the context of rural, without understanding the conditions of the rural and how the category infl uences the interpretation or advances knowledge. If the research is not advancing an understanding of the rural, for the rural, it may be just enacting symbolic violence (Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992 ) against the places it purports to represent by inadvertently treating them as a curiosity or constructing them as deviant. Thus, I will argue that an important component of rural research is its focus upon the particularities and subjectivities of places, and the opportunity this affords to illuminate the modern condition in what is arguably an increasingly placeless metropolitan ‘fi rst’ world (Roberts & Green, 2013 ).