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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

From crisis to sustainability: The politics of knowledge production on rural Europe

Arora-Jonsson, Seema; McAreavey, Ruth


What does it mean to study places in 'crisis' and how does that affect the research done on the 'rural'? To be considered to be in crisis is not really new as any literature review of rural studies indicates. And yet, we live now in a new context, with new challenges for 'rural' research, in particular that of sustainability. Sustainability is the new policy focus and is increasingly reflected in research on rural Europe. Although scholars are beginning to theorize on what is sustainable in and for rural areas, our intention is to take this further. We theorize on what the focus on crisis and, increasingly on sustainability, means for the research we do and the knowledge we produce on rural Europe. Our aim is to bring attention to the politics of past and present knowledge production on the rural to be able to imagine just and sustainable futures. In an analysis of literature primarily from Sweden and the UK, we argue that two construals, that of a rural crisis and that of rural-urban polarization, have set the tone for rural studies and may have overshadowed a more plural approach. We outline what might be needed from rural research to meet future challenges and what the notion of sustainability, with its emphasis on the entanglements of the social, economic and environmental, might mean for the future of rural research.


construals; decentring the rural-urban binary; European rural research; politics of knowledge production; rural crisis; sustainability

Published in

Sociologia Ruralis
2023, Volume: 63, number: 3, pages: 771 - 792
Publisher: WILEY

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Sociology (excluding Social work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
    Economic Geography

    Publication identifier


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