The story of how ‘the rural’ has been constructed in the discourse of social science is a story of a continual struggle to deﬁne what is meant by the ‘rural’ and to establish the extent to which it is the same as, or distinctive from, the ‘urban’. The very process of attempting to distinguish between these two opposites has given meanings to them both (Murdoch and Pratt 1993). In particular, there has been an emphasis within geographical work on imagining an opposition between rural space which is understood to have a rural society, and urban space which is viewed as having an urban society (Cloke 1999). The rural has therefore been conceptualized as a distinct, bounded space, while rural society has been distinguished from life in the city in two main ways. First, it is believed to have a strong sense of ‘community’ (everyone knowing everyone else). Second, rural life has been imagined as closer to nature than urban life (as less competitive, as less predicated on material possessions and status and having a slower pace of life) (Bell 1992).