Lay discourses of the rural: Developments and implications for rural studies
Jones, O. (1995) Lay discourses of the rural: Developments and implications for rural studies. Journal of Rural Studies, 11 (1). pp. 35-49. ISSN 0743-0167
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Abstract -- Considerations of lay discourses of the rural people's everyday interpretations of rural places and ideas of the rural have become increasingly evident in some key articles addressing the theory and practice of academic rural studies. A major element of the retheorization of rural studies, which itself is set within the broader contexts of recent developments in social theory, considerations of lay discourses have concerned themselves with the nature and implications of everyday interpretations and constructions of the rural, and, in some cases, how academic discourses are complexly bound up with such processes. This paper sets out to review some of the key examples of how and why lay discourses are being used in academic approaches to the rural, and how some of these are also addressing the key question of the problematic relationship between lay and academic discourses. It then aims to develop these initiatives, firstly, by suggesting some clarification of what lay discourse is; how other discourses, particularly popular and professional, should be identified; and why close attention should be paid to how they link up. Secondly, drawing on qualitative case study material gathered from an academic incursion into lay discourses of a small village in south west England, it is suggested that the very different nature of lay discourses has not been fully appreciated, and this has led to only partial success in some academic attempts to assimilate them into new approaches to rural studies, particularly in the ongoing debate about definitions of the rural. It is shown that lay discourses of the rural, such as they are, can be expected to be both spatially and conceptually complex and incoherent to an extent that will make it difficult for them to be incorporated into established (modern) academic rural approaches and thus leads to conclusions that in part support Murdoch and Pratt's (1993) concept of the 'postrural'.
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